The research program of Michael P. Fautsch, PhD focuses on the development and treatment of glaucoma, an eye disease that affects nearly 60 million people and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Elevated intraocular pressure is the primary risk factor for the disease and it is with this purpose that Dr. Fautsch has devoted his research efforts to understanding the physiology of intraocular pressure regulation. Toward this understanding, his laboratory team is identifying new therapeutic targets and developing novel therapeutics to regulate pressure and preserve the function of the optic nerve, the ultimate site of eye damage leading to vision loss in glaucoma.
- Determining the molecular changes in cells of the trabecular outflow pathway following treatment with intraocular pressure reduction agents (e.g. Xalatan, Lumigan, and Travatan) and how these molecular changes influence intraocular pressure.
- Identification and characterization by our laboratory of a new class of compounds (ATP-sensitive potassium channel openers) that lowers intraocular pressure and has neuroprotective properties. These compounds are being evaluated as future therapeutic options for the treatment of glaucoma.
- Determining the role of cerebrospinal fluid pressure in the development of glaucoma. Our laboratory has found that individuals with glaucoma have reduced cerebrospinal fluid pressure suggesting that this may be a risk factor for the disease.
- Discovery of biomarkers in normal and glaucomatous tissues and fluids.
- Elucidating the structural changes that occur in normal and glaucomatous eyes during elevated pressure.
Significance to patient care
Elevated intraocular pressure is the primary risk factor responsible for optic nerve damage and loss of vision in glaucoma. Dr. Fautsch studies are geared towards identifying and characterizing new treatment options that will reduce elevated intraocular pressure and protect the optic nerve from damage in patients with glaucoma. Development of such drugs would improve treatment and further slow disease progression.
- Research Chair, Department of Ophthalmology
- Member of National Eye Institutes Basic Vision Sciences Study Section
- Co-Chair of the 2nd and 8th Annual ARVO/Pfizer International Vision Conference
- Ruth Salta Young Investigator Award
- Lew Wasserman Mid-Career Scientist Award