Shannath L Merbs, MD, PhD

Shannath L. Merbs, MD, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. She is a board-certified ophthalmologist and clinician-scientist whose laboratory is studying the role that epigenetics, particularly DNA methylation, plays in retinal development and disease. In animal models, she has demonstrated cell-specific DNA methylation patterns in the retina, as well as alterations in DNA methylation in animal models of retinal degeneration. She is a relatively new researcher in the field of glaucoma and is the principal investigator (PI) of an NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Project, Health and Human Disease R01 grant to characterize differentially methylated regions in affected cell types in cadaver eyes with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In addition, she is the PI of an X01 grant for CIDR access to identifying differentially methylated DNA regions in the blood of patients with POAG and AMD. Merbs is excited to explore the role that DNA methylation might play in the death of ganglion cells in animal models as described in her BrightFocus application. She believes that a better understanding of the underlying epigenetic mechanisms contributing to the development and progression of glaucoma may help guide novel treatment strategies.