By Kristen Mulvihill
Scheie Vision Annual Report 2019
Katherine Uyhazi, MD, PhD
The Scheie Eye Institute is delighted to welcome back Katherine Uyhazi, MD, PhD, who recently joined the faculty as an Instructor of Ophthalmology, with a specialty in retinal degeneration.
Dr. Uyhazi received her MD and PhD in Cell Biology from the Yale School of Medicine, where she focused on understanding gene regulation in embryonic stem cells. She completed her residency in ophthalmology and her fellowship in retinal degeneration here at Scheie.
She first became interested in ophthalmology during an undergraduate research internship, where she studied a protein expressed in photoreceptor cells in fluorescent green-eyed frogs.
“It was exciting and had the potential to help people with macular degeneration – and I was hooked,” Dr. Uyhazi recalled.
Dr. Uyhazi was recently awarded a University of Pennsylvania K12 grant, which will allow her to devote the majority of her time to research. Her research will focus on developing stem cell-based treatments for patients who have lost vision due to retinal cell death.
“If we can coax stem cells to replace the rods and cones and their support cells in the eye, there is hope that we can restore vision to those who have lost their sight due to retinal cell death,” she explained.
In addition to her research, Dr. Uyhazi will devote a portion of her efforts to clinical practice, where she will see patients with inherited retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a form of childhood blindness. She looks forward to working alongside her mentors Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, Albert Maguire, MD, and Tomas Aleman, MD, on several clinical trials of gene therapy treatments.
“Penn is a research powerhouse filled with world-renowned experts, but also has a warmth that makes Scheie feel like family,” she said. “I am honored to have trained here and look forward to continuing my career in such a collaborative place.”
Dr. Uyhazi lives in Fairmount with her husband David, an endocrinologist at Penn Medicine, as well as their one-year-old daughter and their Labrador Retriever. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, scuba diving, and skiing.