Each research module is directed by a principal investigator or two or more co-investigators. These individuals work in the Jacobs Retina Center and also collaborate with or run laboratories elsewhere on the UCSD campus. They collaborate with the most innovative biotechnology companies in San Diego.

William R. Freeman, M.D.

Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology
Vice-Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology
Director, Jacobs Retina Center
Administrative Director, Retina Division

Board Certification in Ophthalmology
Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery

More on Dr. Freeman at SEI

Radha Ayyagari, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Pathology
Chief of Ophthalmic Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (CLIA certified)

Director of Shiley Eye Institute BioBank.
Board Certified in Molecular Diagnostics

More on Dr. Ayyagari at SEI

Genetic Retinal Diseases

Dr. Ayyagari and her research group are performing studies on molecular genetics and therapeutics of retinal degenerations. This includes retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases with a genetic basis. These studies involve cloning disease genes, understanding the molecular mechanism underlying the disease process, identification of potential therapeutic targets and developing therapies. She also heads molecular diagnostic testing at the Shiley Eye Institute. She is funded by the National Eye Institute, the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, and Research to Prevent Blindness. Dr. Ayyagari is participating in laboratory and clinical studies of these diseases with the Jacobs Retina Center group. She has published extensively in this area and is an international recognized expert in this field.

Dr. Ayyagari has a joint appointment in the Department of Pathology, UCSD. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, National Diagnostic Genotyping Network (NEI), and Indo-US Joint Working Committee (NIH).

Dirk-Uwe Bartsch, Ph.D.

Associate Adjunct Professor
Co-Director, Jacobs Retina Center

More on Dr. Bartsch at SEI

Retinal Imaging and Laser Laboratory

Dr. Dirk-Uwe Bartsch is the director of imaging and lasers at the Jacobs Retina Center. His laboratory has helped to develop scanning laser instruments to improve our ability to image and detect disease in the retina. He works with the entire Jacobs Retina team on many studies including clinical trials. He has been the recipient of major grant awards from the Whittaker Foundation and from the National Eye Institute.

He is currently working on new studies of diabetic retinopathy and on new ways to measure retinal damage in HIV disease. He is also working to develop higher resolution instrumentation to further improve our ability to view the retina and ultimately to image individual cells in the living human eye.

Maria Laura Gomez, M.D., O.D., M.A.S.

Ophthalmologist and Ophthalmic Research Associate

More on Dr. Gomez at SEI

Dr. Gomez is an ophthalmologist with an international education. At the Jacobs Retina Center, she focuses on understanding visual function in macular degeneration, diabetes, and dry eye using novel computerized medical instruments and diagnostics. Dr. Gomez is also experienced in the FDA approval process and clinical trials of surgical and medical ophthalmic devices. She has published many important papers in optics and visual function in the human eye, particularly in patients with refractive and retinal surgery.

After earning her medical and surgeon degree from the Rosario University in Bogota, Dr. Gomez had her initial training in Ophthalmology at the prestigious Barraquer Institute of America under the leadership of Prof. Jose Ignacio Barraquer. She completed several clinical fellowships abroad in Tel Hashomer Medical Center, Israel, a Fellowship in Refractive Surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, and a Fellowship in Cornea and Refractive Surgery from the University of California San Diego

Her research training included the Ramon Castroviejo Institute at the Complutense University of Madrid and a Masters of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research from the University of California San Diego.

Dr. Gomez is fluent in Spanish, English, and French. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, International Society of Refractive Surgery, American Society of Optometry and Ophthalmology, PanCornea and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS).

Lingyun Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor
Director of Ocular Pharmacology

More on Dr. Cheng at SEI

Retinal Pharmacology and Advanced Therapeutics Lab

Dr. Lingyun Cheng works closely with members of the School of Engineering and Chemistry (Dr. Michael Sailor) on new drugs and delivery systems which can be applied to or within the eye to treat retinal disease. He co-directs the ocular pharmacology laboratory at the Jacobs Retina Center. Dr. Cheng has published many articles on new ways to package drugs prior to placement in the eye and to provide long lasting treatment for many months of a variety of retinal diseases. He is an expert in the evaluation of retinitis, macular holes, and other important retinal conditions.

Henry A. Ferreyra, M.D.

Associate Clinical Professor

Board Certification in Ophthalmology
Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery

More on Dr. Ferreyra at SEI

Eric Nudleman, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology

Co-Director, Retina Division

Board Certified in Ophthalmology

Dr. Nudleman is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at UC San Diego Shiley Eye Institute. He has been with JRC since 2014 and specializes in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery, with an interest in pediatric vitreoretinopathies. In addition, Dr. Nudleman also teaches and participates in research where he focuses on developmental angiogenesis and identifying novel targets to treat vascular diseases.

More on Dr. Nudleman at SEI

Doran Spencer, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Clinical Professor

Dr. Spencer is a Retina specialist who focuses on uveitis (inflammation of the eye) as many forms of uveitis affect the retina. Dr. Spencer obtained a PhD in Immunology in Portland, Oregon in conjunction with his medical degree where he focused on animal models of uveitis and helped identify novel therapeutic targets for treating eye inflammation. As an ophthalmologist, he has trained at the following institutions: UC Irvine, Harvard Medical School and UC San Diego. He has been with JRC for the last 2 years as a faculty member. Dr. Spencer works closely with Rheumatology and other medical specialists to help control this condition. Beyond this, Dr. Spencer is a Principal Investigator of a clinical trial involving new eye-drop therapies for uveitis affecting the front of eye. He also is a faculty member of the San Diego VA hospital where he works with UCSD faculty, residents and retina fellows.

More on Dr. Spencer at SEI

Shyamanga Borooah, MBBS, MRCP(UK), FRCOphth, Ph.D.

Assistant Clinical Professor

More on Dr. Borooah at borooahlab.ucsd.edu

Dr. Borooah is a retinal specialist who sub-specializes in the treatment of macular degenerations and inherited retinal diseases. He has been part of the Jacobs Retina Center since 2017. In addition to his clinical work, he also heads a laboratory at the Jacobs Retina Center mentoring scientists and students in ophthalmic research. His research focuses on using stem cells to model retina and macular degenerations in a dish to help discover novel treatments for these sight threatening conditions. Beyond his research at the Jacobs Retina Center, Dr. Borooah is the principle investigator on a number of groundbreaking translational gene therapy trials

Nicholas Oesch, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Scientist of Psychology

More on Dr. Oesch at oeschlab.ucsd.edu

Retinal Neurophysiology Laboratory

Dr. Oesch’s laboratory studies how retinal neurons communicate with each other to process visual information, using whole-cell electrophysiology, optical physiology, and behavioral techniques. Dr. Oesch collaborates with the Jacobs Retina Team on many studies to understand how retinal disease alters the physiology of retinal during disease, and how therapeutic strategies can restore neural communication in the retina.

The current focus of Dr. Oesch’s laboratory is investigating how synapses between retinal neurons extract contrast information during dim light vision. He is also working to understand how retinal prosthetics activate retinal neurons, how neuroprotective therapies restore function in glaucoma, and how stem cell-derived
retinal neurons communicate and function.

 Michael J. Sailor, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Nanoengineering.

Dr. Sailor has been collaborating with Dr. Freeman and the Jacobs Retina Center for over ten years. He has over 200 scientific publications in his field of work and is notably known for his research in developing nanoporous silicon, a material many of our treatments use for intraocular drug delivery.

More on Dr. Sailor.

Nathan L. Scott, MD, MPP

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery Division Chief

Nathan L. Scott MD MPP is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and the Chief of the Ocular Oncology Division at the Shiley Eye Institute and Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology. He is highly experienced in eye tumor treatment both in children and adults and is performing important research in ocular melanoma. He is trained in vitreoretinal surgery and treats general and complex vitreoretinal diseases as well as both surface and intraocular malignancies in the adult and pediatric populations.

Dr. Scott is also an Associate Member of the Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program at the Moores Cancer Center (MCC). His research focuses on understanding the oncogenic activity of G proteins and G protein couple receptors (GPCRs). Specifically, he seeks to understand their role/impact on the development and progression of uveal melanoma. The goal of his research is to develop therapeutic targets to treat and/or prevent macro-metastatic disease in uveal melanoma.

Dr. Scott earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School and completed his residency in ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, where he was also selected as Chief Resident. He completed fellowships in Vitreoretinal Surgery and Ocular Oncology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. He received multiple awards during his training, including the Heed Ophthalmic Society Fellowship, the Mary August Trust Fellowship Award, the 2020 Vit Buckle Society Fellows Foray award, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology Robert Copeland Fellowship award.

Veronica Mendoza
Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

Veronica Mendoza, a Senior Clinical Research Coordinator at the Jacobs Retina Center, has worked in the Ophthalmology Department at Shiley Eye Institute for over 10 years before making the transition to pure clinical research and becoming a member of the Jacobs Retina Center team.

She is the Lead Clinical Coordinator for several corporate-sponsored ophthalmic clinical trials. Veronica has over 20 years of experience in patient care, and is certified by the NCLE, (National Contact Lens Examiners Certification), NIH, (National Institute of Health), and is interested in the anterior chamber of the eye as well as the retina. She has extensive experience in visual acuity examinations, visual function exams (including visual field and intricate color testing exams), as well as working with patients diagnosed with HIV, Diabetic Macular Edema, Geographic Atrophy, and Macular Degeneration.

Nancy Booth
Clinical Research Coordinator

Nancy Booth, a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Jacobs Retina Center. is new to the Shiley Eye Institute. She was the Program Manager and a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant in the Pediatric Ophthalmology Department at Rady Children’s Hospital for 20 years prior to transitioning to clinical research at Jacobs Retina Center. She is currently certified by several corporate sponsors for ophthalmic clinical trials and is in the process of pursuing her career in Retinal Research and Ophthalmic Photography.

Pam Emory
Clinical Research Coordinator

Pam has worked at the Shiley Eye Institute as a technician for six years before making the transition to pure clinical research. She is certified by JCAHPO (Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology) as a Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT). She has been an Ophthalmic Technician for 29 years and has extensive experience in several different aspects of ophthalmology. Pam has over 30 years of experience in patient care and is currently certified by several corporate sponsors for ophthalmic clinical trials.

Research and Ophthalmic Photography.

Sasha Rodriguez
Clinical Research Assistant

Sasha is a clinical research assistant at Jacobs Retina Center. She was at Shiley Eye Institute for 14 years prior to making her transition to pure clinical research.

She currently serves as the center’s IRB specialist, ensuring proper compliance and reporting. She has over 10 years of patient care experience and is certified in GCP (Good Clinical Practice) and currently certified by several corporate sponsors for ophthalmic clinical trials. She has experience in visual acuity examinations including visual fields. She is in the process of pursuing her career in Retinal Research.