National Eye Institute (NEI)

Scientific Director: Kapil Bharti, Ph.D.

The NEI Division of Intramural Research (DIR) carries out basic and clinical research in a variety of disciplines including genetics; cell, molecular, and developmental biology; neuroscience; immunology; epidemiology; and clinical trials to develop therapeutic interventions for the prevention and treatment of diseases of the visual system. Major research interests of the DIR include, but are not limited to:

  • Role of growth factors in angiogenesis and neuroprotection in ocular diseases
  • CNS reward circuits that control behavior
  • Structure and function of genes and proteins with key roles in normal, aging and diseased eye
  • Genetically engineered models for human eye disease
  • Nerve cell communications that transmit visual information across the retina
  • Biochemistry of the visual cycle
  • Genetic susceptibility for AMD and diabetic retinopathy
  • Genetic defects and pathways of retinal degeneration
  • Genetic epidemiology
  • Genetic origins of inherited ophthalmic diseases
  • Childhood blinding diseases and inheritance
  • Neuronal glial Interactions in retinal disease
  • Animal models of inflammatory disease
  • Inflammatory mechanisms in eye disease
  • Physiology of the RPE and iPS cell-derived retinal pigment epithelia
  • Protection of retinal neurons against elevated intraocular pressure in glaucoma
  • Lipid oxydation in the retina and the RPE
  • Gene therapeutics to treat X-linked retinoschisis, retinitis pigmentosa, and macular degeneration

The NEI’s National Ophthalmic Disease Genotyping Network (eyeGENE®) provides a research repository of DNA/tissue coupled to anonymous phenotypic information for discovery research and allows clinicians unprecedented access to DNA diagnostic laboratories.

The Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications (DECA) is an intramural division of the NEI that serves three main functions: research, education, and consultation. DECA plans, develops, and conducts human population studies concerned with the cause, prevention, and treatment of eye disease and vision disorders, with emphasis on the major causes of blindness and visual impairment. This includes:

  • Studies of incidence and prevalence in defined populations
  • Prospective and retrospective studies of risk factors
  • Studies to evaluate diagnostic procedures
  • Natural history studies, clinical trials, and genetic studies

Learn more about the National Eye Institute’s Division of Intramural Research.

This page was last updated on Monday, May 15, 2023