Dr Shaomei Wang
Shaomei Wang, MD, PhD. Dr Wang obtained her MD in China and PhD in England, UK. She entered the field of retinal degenerative diseases and repair as a post-doc working with Professor Ray Lund, FRS, one of the pioneers in the field at the Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL, UK. Our main research projects are to (i) understand the underlying pathology of retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular disease and optic nerve neuropathy; (ii) develop therapeutic approaches to ameliorate these blinding diseases. Our laboratory has a long history of applying cell-based therapy for retinal degeneration. We have explored the efficacy of a range of different cell types (i) cells to replace defective retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells such as human embryonic stem cell derived –RPE cells, (ii) cells that appear to function by releasing growth factors such as peripheral nerve ensheathing cells (Schwann cells) or cells genetically modified to release growth factors and (iv) cells with multiple functions such as stem cells and neural progenitors. Our proof of concept studies have provided the pre-clinical data for three prominent first in human clinical trials for retinal degeneration using either human embryonic stem cells (Advanced Cell Technology) or umbilical cord tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells (Johnson and Johnson) or central nervous system derived neural stem cells (StemCell Inc.). Currently, Dr. Wang is working at Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai medical center. Their group works closely with Dr. Clive Svendsen, Director, on cell based therapy to treat degenerative retinal diseases. Her group has been awarded with grants from NIH, DOD, CIRM and multiple industry sponsored projects. Currently, we are performing an IND enabling study of using neural progenitor cells to treat retinitis pigmentosa. The outmost goal of their research is to use stem cell and gene editing therapies for treating retinitis pigmentosa, age related macular degeneration and optic nerve neuropathy and understand the mechanism of action of stem cells in rescuing vision.