Dr. Geeta K. Vemuganti, Dean, School of Medical Sciences at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been selected for the 2013 ARVO/Merck Collaborative Research Fellowship. The fellowship is provided by the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, through a generous grant from Merck.

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Dr. Geeta has been selected based upon the proposed research project: Effect of Androgens on Human Lacrimal Gland Cells In-vitro, submitted to the foundation, in collaboration with Dr David Sullivan, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Schepen’s Eye Research. Dr Vemuganti will carry out a collaborative research with Dr Sullivan for a period of one year. The fellowship carries an award of US $10,000 towards visits and research. This collaborative 2013 ARVO/Merck Collaborative Research Fellowship will bring in the complimentary expertise of Dr Vemuganti and Dr David Sullivan, Schepen’s Eye Research Institute, and Harvard Medical School, Boston. Dr Sullivan has contributed significantly to the sexual dimorphism as well as the neuro-hormonal control of lacrimal glandsecretion in rats and mice, while Dr Vemuganti has established the first human lacrimal gland cultures that show secretory function in in-vitro system. This proposal will evaluate the Effect of Androgens on Human Lacrimal Gland Cells In-vitro, which would improve the understanding of pathobiology of neurohormonal control of human lacrimal gland cells in- vitro.

Dr Geeta Vemuganti is a clinician – scientist who has successfully contributed to both clinical sciences as well as translational research. Her pioneering work of establishing a simple cost effective, feeder- cell free, xeno-free technique of culturing limbal stem cells on human amniotic membrane in India led to the largest series of clinical limbal transplantation’s in the world. She also established and reported the presence of mesenchymal stem cells in limbal stroma which paved way for understanding of the limbal niche. Other novel contributions include development of composite culture of conjunctival and limbal cells, identification of cancer stem cells in Retinoblastoma primary tumor tissue. Her current work involves establishing models of Cancer stem cells in Retinoblastoma and characterizing human lacrimal gland to pave way for new modalities of therapy for dry eye.