BME Seminar Series: Dr. Brittany Coats, University of Utah
"Mechanics of Vitreoretinal Adhesion"
Visual impairment is estimated to affect 1 in 5 adults over the age of 60 and is associated with higher depressive symptoms and a lower quality of life. Adhesion between the vitreous and the retina at the vitreoretinal interface is associated with the progression of many sight-threatening diseases that may lead to visual impairment or blindness, including age-related macular degeneration, incomplete posterior vitreous detachment, and traumatic retinal detachment. Despite the fundamental involvement of the vitreoretinal interface, the mechanisms of vitreoretinal adhesion are not well understood. Further, there have been no qualitative study to investigate the mechanics of adhesion at the interface. In this presentation, I will present our research measuring adhesion of the vitreoretinal interface in sheep and human eyes, identifying correlations with region and age, and identifying proteins at the vitreoretinal interface that contribute to adhesion. These studies begin to elucidate mechanisms of adhesion in retinal diseases, and potentially identify imaging biomarker candidates suggestive of stronger adhesion. Further, with our models and experimental designs we can begin to investigate how adhesion modulates protein expression, developing new therapeutic targets or innovative strategies to mitigate vision loss from retinal disease and trauma.
Dr. Brittany Coats is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah and holds an affiliated positions in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Pediatrics, and Bioengineering. Her research focuses on injury mechanics of the brain and eye, with specific interest in understanding microstructural features and properties that lead to better prevention, detection, and treatment strategies for injury and disease. She graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah and a PhD in Bioengineering at University of Pennsylvania. Her post-doctoral research forged collaborations with neurosurgeons and ophthalmologists at the University of Pennsylvania to investigate the effect of repetitive head trauma on brain and ocular injury. Her current research efforts in ocular mechanics and traumatic brain injury are supported by grants from the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and National Institute for Justice.