Portrait of Janis Eells

Janis Eells, PhD

  • Professor, Biomedical Sciences

Speaker Topics

  • Retinal Degenerative Diseases (Macular Degeneration)
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Pharmacology, Molecular Toxicology

Interests & Expertise

Janis Eells’s research focuses on the ways to treat Retinal Degeneration and Disease.

The Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Retinal Degeneration and Disease
Mitochondria play a key role in cellular energy metabolism and intracellular signaling processes. These organelles are involved in many complex signaling cascades regulating both cell survival and cell death. Importantly, mitochondrial dysfunction and the resulting oxidative stress are central in the pathogenesis of aging and degenerative diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.

Research in her laboratory is directed at understanding the mitochondrial signaling pathways that regulate the processes of cellular aging and degeneration with the long-term goal of learning how to protect cells and tissues against these degenerative processes.

Photobiomodulation in Retinal Degeneration and Disease
Evidence is growing that exposure of cells to low-energy photon irradiation in the near-infrared (NIR) range of the spectrum, collectively termed photobiomodulation (PBM), can restore the function of damaged mitochondria, upregulate the production of cytoprotective factors and prevent apoptotic cell death.

Photobiomodulation has been applied clinically in the treatment of soft tissue injuries and acceleration of wound healing for more than 40 years. Photobiomodulation studies in Eells’ laboratory have demonstrated improved clinical outcomes, increased production of cytoprotective factors and improved cell survival in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, diabetes mellitus and retinal degeneration.

Investigations into the mechanisms of photobiomodulation have shown that NIR photons are absorbed by the mitochondrial photoacceptor molecule, cytochrome c oxidase triggering intracellular signaling pathways that culminate in improved mitochondrial energy metabolism, increased cytoprotective factor production and cell survival. Research in her laboratory employs electrophysiological, neuroimaging, histochemical and molecular methodologies.