By Ava Kikut
Scheie Vision Summer 2017
Dr. Raymond Douglas is a Penn Quaker through and through. He studied biomedical engineering as an undergraduate at Penn, earned a PhD in immunology in Peter Nowel’s cancer research lab, attended the Perelman School of Medicine, and completed his ophthalmology residency at the Scheie Eye Institute.
Dr. Douglas was drawn to ophthalmology because it allowed him to combine laboratory research and surgery. He has found interacting with patients to be the most rewarding part of his career in oculoplastics. “When someone is in an auto accident and they’ve been deformed and in pain, and you’re able to do something to return them to the way they were, they are really grateful. It’s rewarding to see this transition occur,” Dr. Douglas said.
Dr. Douglas completed a fellowship in Orbital Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. He joined the Jules Stein faculty for five years before becoming an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center. After six years in Ann Arbor, Dr. Douglas recently returned to Los Angeles for a position at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
At Cedar-Sinai’s Stem Cell Institute, Dr. Douglas is continuing his research on stem cell regeneration for patients with facial paralysis. Many patients with facial paralysis are in constant discomfort because they are unable to blink, which causes their corneas to dry out. Dr. Douglas is working to use stem cell technology to return blinking function to tissues and nerve fibers.
In addition to facial paralysis, Dr. Douglas specializes in Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid and can cause eye bulging. Dr. Douglas recently participated in a clinical trial testing teprotumumab treatment in patients with active thyroid disease. “This is the first trial that’s ever used an antigen blocking technique,” he explained. This technique involves a humanized antibody (teprotumumab) that binds to the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) and prevents the immune system from recognizing that receptor. The Phase II study spans 18 American and six European medical centers. Results will be published later this year.
As a leading researcher, Dr. Douglas continues to consider how his work can have broad impact on patient lives. “My PhD advisor always reminded me to look at the big picture, think about how my findings make a difference for people, and how to translate into that difference,” he said.
Dr. Douglas fondly recalls his time at Penn. “The mentorship, especially at Scheie, from many of the faculty that I trained with, set the stage of how to treat people, how to treat patients, and how to investigate diseases...That’s been incredibly important. It really shaped what I do,” he said. Dr. Douglas has remained in close touch with many of his mentors and peers from Scheie. “I regard them as family,” he added.
Outside of his clinical and research work, Dr. Douglas enjoys cycling and spending time with his two kids, Morgan and Raymond. The Scheie Eye Institute is honored to call Dr. Douglas one of our outstanding and inspirational alumni.