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Berman-Gund Laboratory

The Berman-Gund Laboratory for the Study of Retinal Degenerations of Harvard Medical School continues multidisciplined research on retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome, macular degeneration, and other related degenerative diseases of the retina. Results from ocular examinations of more than 14,000 patients are in a computerized data bank that provides an unusual resource for research on these diseases. More than 9,000 blood samples are on file for molecular genetics research.

The Laboratory is presently conducting research that includes:

  • Performing a new randomized controlled study to see if a medication in addition to vitamin A can further slow the course of the common forms of retinitis pigmentosa.
  • Making a concentrated effort to isolate the genes responsible for retinal degenerations.
  • Studying laboratory models to define the mechanisms that lead to photoreceptor cell death.
  • Evaluating other possible treatments for hereditary retinal degenerations. We have had some success in introducing a gene into retinal photoreceptor cells as a first step in gene therapy.
  • Continuing to evaluate autopsy eyes with retinal degeneration to define the pathogenesis of these conditions at the cellular level.

The Laboratory also uses psychophysical and ERG measurements to assess patients with juvenile and age-related macular degeneration and retinal vascular diseases to detect early changes in retinal function that may, in turn, affect management of these conditions.


Eliot L. Berson, M.D.,
William F. Chatlos Professor of Ophthalmology
Harvard Medical School

Associate Director

Eric A. Pierce, M.D., Ph.D.,                                                       Director, Ocular Genomics Institute                                                                                                


Michael A. Sandberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Electrophysiology

Alexander R. Gaudio, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology

Basil Pawlyk, M.S.C., Research Associate in Ophthalmology