cagri g. besirli, md, phd
Skillman Career Development Professor, Pediatric Ophthalmology
Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
Dr. Besirli’s goal as a clinician-scientist is to improve vision in children and adults with retinal disorders and use the power of retinal imaging to diagnose and treat ocular and systemic diseases. He specializes in diseases and surgery of the retina and vitreous as well as management of acquired and inherited pediatric retinal disorders. He has had extensive medical and surgical training in vitreoretinal disorders, including retinal dystrophies and complex adult and pediatric vitreoretinal surgery.
A great majority of his time is spent reviewing retinal images of patients with various ocular and systemic diseases. Ophthalmology benefits from cutting-edge imaging technologies that allow him to view neuroretina and retinal microvasculature directly, providing exquisite diagnostic information that no other non-invasive imaging technology can match.
As a basic research scientist, his laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms of apoptosis and survival during periods of neuronal and retinal stress. His PhD training in neuronal apoptosis and post-PhD work in photoreceptor cell death has provided him with a unique expertise in designing, executing and analyzing cell death and survival assays in different experimental paradigms, including various cell lines and in vivo models of neuronal and retinal diseases in rodents. He has used these models extensively to identify small molecule inhibitors of apoptosis in cell lines, primary neurons, and photoreceptors. A small peptide inhibitor of photoreceptor neuron apoptosis he developed during his ophthalmology training is now in early development to become the first successful neuroprotective agent in the eye.
Dr. Besirli’s laboratory is currently working towards understanding how neuronal cells regulate energy metabolism and activate survival or death pathways using retina as a model tissue.