Malia Edwards, PhD

I began doing research as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, where I studied oxidative stress in relation to fetal alcohol syndrome. I went on to study oxidative stress tolerance in reef sharks as an Honors student at the University of Queensland in Australia. I obtained my PhD degree at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. My PhD research focused on the response of astrocytes to oxidative stress and inflammation on astrocytes in relation to Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. I began my postdoctoral training at the Jackson Laboratory where I learned mouse genetics and molecular biology. During this time, my primary project involved cloning and characterizing a mouse mutant, Lama1nmf223, with abnormal retinal vasculature and astrocyte development. This project sparked my interest in astrocytes and vascular development of the retina.  I joined Dr. Jerry Lutty’s laboratory at the Wilmer Eye Institute in 2009, as a post-doctoral fellow, and was promoted to a faculty position as a research associate in 2012. Here, I have continued studying the vascular development in the Lama1nmf223 mice as well as in another mouse which lacks retinal ganglion cells. My work on the Lama1nmf223 mice, along with my past research on astrocytes, has given me a passion for studying retinal glia. I have most recently been looking at glial changes in aged human retinas with and without age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As I begin my independent research career, I plan to focus on closing the gap in our knowledge of retinal glia both in normal aging and disease. I strongly believe that understanding the changes to retinal glia could provide crucial clues to treating many retinal diseases, including AMD.