Tongalp H. Tezel, M.D.
Kentucky Lions Endowed Chair
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Director of Fellowship
Program in Vitreoretinal
Diseases and Surgery
301 E. Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville KY 40202
Telephone: 502-852-5466 Fax: 502-852-3811
Hacettepe University Medical School, Ankara, Turkey – 1984
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri - 1999-2002
Clinical Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Surgery 1 - Department of Ophthalmology, Rigshospitalet Copenhagen University School of Medicine, Copenhagen, Denmark,1993-1994;
Clinical Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Surgery 2 - College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, Department of Ophthalmology, New York, NY, 2002-2003;
Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Research - Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, 1994-1997
I am a clinician-scientist who has an active research laboratory focused on investigating the molecular mechanisms of various retinal diseases. I have been intensely involved in cutting-edge retinal research throughout my career and employ advanced experimental techniques, such as genomic and proteomic analysis in my research. My main research interests include pharmacologic vitreolysis, tissue engineering and drug development for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. I have been involved with retinal cell transplantation studies for more than a decade and developed several techniques used for tissue harvest and delivery. My innovative work resulted in several new patents regarding the discovery of new treatment options for patients with retinal diseases.
My laboratory has been working on age-related macular degeneration and angiogenesis to better understand the pathobiology of this devastating disease. Age-related macular degeneration is associated with aging and it gradually destroys the central vision. Although there are several treatments available to our patients none of them is a cure for age-related macular degeneration since the disease process progresses despite treatment. Obviously the reason for not effectively preventing macular degeneration or treating patients effectively is the lack of understanding of the molecular mechanisms causing this disease. To fill in this gap, I have been working systematically to uncover the pathophysiological pathways leading to age-related macular degeneration. I was the first one to demonstrate the detachment-induced cell death of retinal pigment epithelial cells. This discovery changed the whole field of retinal cell transplantations and initiated the efforts to tissue engineer the damaged retina with synthetic polymers and retinal cell transplantation. I collectively named these reconstructive efforts, “Maculoplasty.” I have recently created the proteomic maps of retinal cells which led to the discovery of hemoglobin and immunoglobin synthesis within the retinal pigment cells. These observations have revolutionized our understanding of oxygen transport and immune response in the retina and shed light to molecular pathobiology of age-related macular degeneration.
I am also the inventor of the use of the enzyme Dispase for inducing pharmacological vitreolysis. This non-invasive separation of the vitreous gel from the retina can eliminate the need for surgery for several vitreoretinal diseases including macular holes, vitreomacular traction syndromes and diabetic eye disease.
Being a clinician-scientist allows me to bring scientific developments to my patients in a timely manner. A good example is the use of genetic analysis to determine the risk of acquiring macular degeneration and predicting the response to treatment.