Dr. Ula Jurkunas is a clinician-scientist who performs corneal and refractive surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear and conducts basic science research on Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy and stem cell transplantation at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear. In addition to being one of the highest volume refractive and transplant surgeons at Mass. Eye and Ear, she teaches residents and fellows about corneal, cataract, and refractive surgery as well as the clinical management and diagnosis of corneal and refractive conditions. Dr. Jurkunas is a co-director of Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology Cornea Center of Excellence.
After obtaining her medical degree from University of Louisville, Dr. Jurkunas completed her ophthalmology residency at Boston University. She then completed subspecialty training in cornea, external diseases and refractive surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear, serving as Chief Cornea Fellow for one year.
In 2006, Dr. Jurkunas was one of the first HMS junior clinician scientists to receive a prestigious K12-Harvard-Vision Clinical Scientist Development Program Award, which supported her award-winning research into the pathophysiology of Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy. Today, she heads a fully-staffed laboratory focused on Fuchs dystrophy research, a disease that accounts for over 10,000 corneal transplants (roughly one-third of all corneal transplantations) each year in the United States. Her laboratory is funded by numerous grants, including ones from National Eye Institute and National Institutes of Health.
In addition, Dr. Jurkunas conducts research in collaboration with the Center for Human Cell Therapy Boston into the development of cultivated epithelial stem cell constructs for patients suffering from limbal stem cell deficiency. To aid in the translational development of stem cell therapy in corneal disorders, she was awarded the Production Assistance for Cellular Therapies (PACT) grant from National Heart/Lung and Blood Program of the National Institutes of Health. Her work has led to numerous peer-reviewed publications, review articles, and presentations nationally and internationally.
Refractive surgery, cornea and external disease, limbal epithelial stem cell deficiency, endothelial dysfunction, Fuchs dystrophy, corneal infection, corneal transplantation, and cataract surgery. Dr. Jurkunas is one of the first to perform minimally invasive corneal transplantations surgery called DMEK for corneal edema and Fuchs dystrophy.
Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, oxidative stress and aging of endothelium, ocular surface reconstruction with stem cells, corneal transplantation such as DMEK and DSAEK.
For a full publication list, please see her CV. A representative list is available through www.pubmed.gov.
Ziaei A, Schmedt T, Chen Y, Jurkunas UV. Sulforaphane decreases endothelial cell apoptosis in fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy: a novel treatment. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Oct 15;54(10):6724-34.
Schrems-Hoesl LM, Schrems WA, Cruzat A, Shahatit BM, Bayhan HA, Jurkunas UV, Hamrah P. Cellular and subbasal nerve alterations in early stage Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy: an in vivo confocal microscopy study. Eye (Lond). 2013 Jan;27(1):42-9.
Fuchsluger TA, Jurkunas U, Kazlauskas A, Dana R. Anti-apoptotic gene therapy prolongs survival of corneal endothelial cells during storage. Gene Ther. 2011 Aug; 18(8): 778-87.
Jurkunas UV, Bitar MS, Funaki T, Azizi B. Evidence of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy. Am J Pathol. 2010 Nov; 177(5): 2278-89.
Ahmad S, Osei-Bempong C, Dana R, Jurkunas U. The culture and transplantation of human limbal stem cells. J Cell Physiol. 2010 Oct; 225 (1): 15-9.
To learn more about Dr. Jurkunas, read her "Meet a Specialist" profile here.