Eleftherios Paschalis Ilios, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Instructor in Ophthalmology

Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear

 Investigator

Research Summary

Center/Research Area Affiliation

Biography

A native of the ancient Greek island of Kos, the birthplace of Hippocrates, Dr. Paschalis completed his doctorate in medicine, with excellence. Dr. Paschalis' research extends to various areas of ophthalmology. He aims to improve the Boston keratoprosthesis artificial cornea, develop novel implantable glaucoma valves and keratoprosthesis devices, develop micro-optomechanical pressure systems for intraocular pressure measurements, design groundbreaking materials for vitreoretinal surgery, design and develop new drug delivery systems for biologic therapies, and develop prosthetic devices for lid reanimation. His main research involves the mitigation of the ocular injuries following chemical burns and, in particular, retinal neuroprotection. Dr. Paschalis' work also extends into clinical research, in which he studies various inflammatory markers for the early detection of glaucoma in patients who received Boston keratoprosthesis surgery.

Download his CV [PDF] for more information.

Education

BEng (with honors), Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Coventry University, UK (2000)
MSc., Telecommunications Technology, Astong University, UK (2002)
Ph.D., Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, Democritus University, Greece (2010)

Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2011-2013)

Honors

2017: Recipient of the Fight for Sight award (Principal Investigator/PI).
2016: Honorarium-Invited guest speaker at our 28th University of Montreal Ophthalmology Research Day, June, 23, 2016.
2015: Recipient of Lions award (Co-PI).
2015: Recipient of Lions award (PI).
2014: Recipient of the Eleanor and Miles Shore 50th Anniversary Fellowships for Scholars in Medicine, Harvard Cornea Center.
2014: Recipient of Life Achievement Award in Medicine by the Dodecanese Society of New England, MA, USA, May, 17, 2014.
2013: First award of Best Paper Session, second author, 4-5, October 2013, European Society of Cornea and Ocular Surface Disease Specialists, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
2013: First scientific award, New England Ophthalmological Society (NEOS), MA, USA.
2007: Second scientific award, 1st Interuniversity Ophthalmology Congress, Greece.
2005: Recognition award by the Greek institution of foreign education, Greece.
2004: Pythagoras Research Support award, EU and Greek Ministry of Education (E.P.E.A.E.K. II).
2000: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), MSc Scholarship, UK.


His Story

Research

In 2011, Dr. Paschalis became a Senior Research Scholar at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, where he conducted research under the guidance of Claes H. Dohlman, MD, PhD. He has since become an integral and prolific member of the Boston Keratoprosthesis Laboratory.

In 2013, Dr. Paschalis was promoted to Instructor in Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and Investigator at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

Dr. Paschalis’ research extends to various areas of ophthalmology. His work focuses on improving the Boston Keratoprosthesis and developing novel implantable glaucoma valves and materials for vitroretinal surgery. His recent research focus involves the mitigation of the ocular injuries following chemical burns.

Teaching

  • 2006, Democritus University, Ophthalmology: Safety and Hazards in Medical LASER. Medical MSc program
  • 2004-2005, Public Occupational Training Institute (IEK), Alexandroupolis, Greece: Network Technicians. Lecturer in the Electrical and Digital Measurements program
  • 2002-2003, Public Occupational Training Institute (IEK), Kos, Dodecanese, Greece: Computer Engineers and Automated Systems
  • 2002-2003, Private Occupational Training Institute (IEK ANKO EPSILON), Kos, Dodecanese, Greece: Computer science ECDL program

Projects

Titanium Modification in Boston Keratoprosthesis

The aim of this study was to improve the cosmesis of the Boston keratoprosthesis, and thus, the social acceptance of patients. This study was based on a surface modification technique that involved coloring the titanium backplates with an inert and biocompatible oxide layer. This modification was assessed in vitro with human corneal epithelial, fibroblasts, and endothelial cells and in vivo in rabbits. Moreover, the Ti surface was characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction crystallography (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and chemical/color stability.

Novel Glaucoma Valves Based on Ferromagnetic Particles

The aim of this study was to design and test a novel glaucoma valve with an opening and closing pressure that could be implanted extraocularly without leading to hypotony. Such architecture provides the opportunity to replace the valve non-surgically. Soft lithography was used to fabricate the valve, and a water-immiscible magnetic fluid (ferrofluid) was used as a pressure-sensitive barrier to aqueous flow. Integrated rare earth micro-magnets were used to calibrate the opening and closing pressure. In-vitro flow measurements were performed to characterize the valve and to compare it to the AhmedTM glaucoma valve. The reliability and predictability of the new valve was verified by pressure/flow measurements over a period of three months and X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis over a period of eight weeks. In vivo assessment was performed in rabbits.

Preliminary in vivo results suggest that the valve is biocompatible and capable of controlling the intraocular pressure in rabbits. These results are very promising, and more thorough investigations of this device are underway.

Novel Material for Extracting Silicone Oil from the Intraocular Lens

The aim of this study was to develop an innovative material and to design a new surgical instrument for the removal of silicone oil during vitrectomy surgery. This work led to a patent application. Two materials were created based on atomic 4 structure modification and polymer micro-fabrication techniques. The materials are currently under in vivo investigation.

Inhibition of Retinal Damage in Severe Ocular Chemical Burns

This study assessed the retinal damage after alkali burns to the cornea and the protective effect of TNF blockade against retinal apoptosis. Over the years, investigators have struggled with methods to restore cornea transparency after chemical burns. We now know that retinal damage plays a much greater role than originally suspected. In this study, we demonstrated that a severe alkali burn on the cornea leads to retina ganglion cell (RGC) layer apoptosis within 24 hours after the burn. Thus, apoptosis of the RGC body can be profound in this period of time. This study suggests that the alkali burn to the cornea can elicit the formation of destructive inflammatory cytokines in the anterior segment of the eye and that these substances can diffuse rapidly backward to damage the retina within 24 hours. Our results suggest that TNF-α inhibition could potentially provide protection against glaucoma in alkali injuries.

Glaucoma and Boston Keratoprosthesis

This study looked for the presence of inflammatory cytokines in the blood of patients with glaucoma and Boston keratoprosthesis. This study provided, for the first time, data on very important inflammatory markers associated with glaucoma and will attempt to elucidate possible differences in glaucoma pathogenesis. The results of this study may provide the basis for treatment customization and targeted anti-glaucoma therapies. In addition, this study may help to propose alternative pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease based on inflammatory markers. This study is led by Dr. Lucy Shen, of Harvard Ophthalmology/Mass. Eye and Ear.

Drug Delivery System for Sustained Topical Delivery of Biologic Agents

This drug delivery system involves a hydrophobic polymer scaffold and a hydrogel impregnated with one or more biologic drugs. The sustained and selective release of biologics to localized tissue has many advantages, mainly maximizing the bioavailability and minimizing systemic side effects.

Optical Domain Micro-Pressure Sensor and the Boston Keratoprosthesis

Intraocular pressure cannot be directly measured in Boston KPro patients due to the rigidity of the device. However, many of these patients develop glaucoma, presumably due to undetected elevation of intraocular pressure. To overcome this problem, Dr. Paschalis embeds an optical pressure transducer in the Boston KPro stem to perform intraocular measurements with an external fiber optic cable connected to a light source.

Current Research Funding

2017-present
Fight for Sight Grant-In-Aid: Principal Investigator (PI)
Novel pre-Descemet’s keratoprosthesis for the treatment of corneal blindness
$22,500
2015-present Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Support Grant: PI
Single cell sequencing using drop-based microfluidic technique. Study of innate immune system in ocular burns
$19,000
2015-present Massachusetts Lions Eye Research support grant: Co-PI
The Boston Blink-netic Project
Dr. Paschalis is developing a wearable system to restore blinking in patients with paralysis.
$19,000
2013-present Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Support Grant: Co PI
Glaucoma in Boston keratoprosthesis patients
The major goal of this grant is to vary the immunization protocol against CEP albumin in primates and attempt to recreate macula degeneration.
$19,000
2013-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Titanium modification in Boston keratoprosthesis
The aim of this study is to improve the cosmesis of the Boston keratoprosthesis, and thus, the social acceptance of the patients.
2013-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Design of a novel material for extracting silicone oil from the intraocular lens
The aim of this study is to develop an innovative material and design of a new surgical instrument for the removal of silicone oil during vitrectomy surgery.
2012-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Design of Novel Glaucoma Valves Based on Ferromagnetic Particles
The aim of this study is to design and test a novel glaucoma valve with an opening and closing pressure that can be implanted extraocularly, without leading to hypotony.
2011-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Inhibition of retinal damage in severe ocular chemical burns
The aim of this study is to assess the retinal damage after alkali burn to the cornea and the protective effect of TNF blockade against retinal apoptosis.
2011-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Gamma irradiations in tissues for high-risk xenotransplantations
The aim of this study is to provide a safe, low-antigen-load, low -ejection-risk, sterile, and decellularized cornea that can be used for human cornea xenotransplantation.
2011-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Polymer coating with heparin for the reduction of retroprosthetic membrane in Boston keratoprosthesis
The aim of this study is to design and polymeric coating, impregnated with heparin, for the inhibition of the formation of retroprosthetic membrane in the Boston keratoprosthesis.
2011-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Glaucoma in the Boston keratoprosthesis patients
The aim of this study is to look for the presence of inflammatory cytokines in the blood of patients with glaucoma and Boston keratoprosthesis.
2011-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Corneal re-innervation after penetrating keratoplasty (PK)
The aim of this study is to assess corneal re-innervation in respect to cornea orientation during PK.
2011-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
Implementation of a micrometer resolution optical coherent tomography for endophthalmitis
The aim of this study is to assess the feasibility of a micron resolution optical coherent tomography (OCT) for the detail imaging of the cornea.
2011-present Boston Keratoprosthesis Research Fund: PI
In-situ drugs detection in the anterior chamber of the eye using raman scattering
The aim of this study is to explore the feasibility of Raman scattering for drug detection in the anterior chamber of the eye.

Publications

H-index

10 (Google Scholar, as of May 2017)

Selected Publications

Dr. Paschalis has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and 2 chapters. Below is a list of selected publications. View his publications on PubMed, Google Scholar, or ORCID.
  1. E. I. Paschalis, C. Zhou, F. Lei, N. Scott, V. Kapoulea, M.-C. Robert, D. Vavvas, R. Dana, J. Chodosh, and C. H. Dohlman, Mechanisms of retinal damage after ocular alkali burns. Am. J. Pathol. Apr. 2017.
  2. Zhou C, Robert M-C, Kapoulea V, Lei F, Stagner AM, Jakobiec FA, Dohlman CH, Paschalis EI. Sustained subconjunctival delivery of infliximab protects the cornea and retina following alkali burn to the eye. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017;58(1):96-105.
  3. Zhou C, Lei F, Chodosh J, Paschalis EI. The role of titanium surface microtopography on adhesion, proliferation, transformation, and matrix deposition of corneal cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Apr 1;57(4):1927-38.
  4. KE Houston, M Tomasi, M Yoon, EI Paschalis. A prototype external magnetic eyelid device for blepharoptosis. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2014 Dec 17;3(6):9.
  5. EI Paschalis, D Eliott, DG Vavvas. Removal of silicone oil from intraocular lens using novel surgical materials. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2014 Sep 12;3(5):4

Patents

For a complete list of Dr. Paschalis’ patents, download his CV [PDF].

Optical Domain Micro-Pressure Sensor Integrated into the Boston Keratoprosthesis Optical Stem
Intraocular pressure cannot be directly measured in Boston KPro patients due to the rigidity of the device. However, many of these patients develop glaucoma, presumably due to undetected elevation of intraocular pressure. In order to overcome this problem, Dr. Paschalis embeded an optical pressure transducer in the Boston KPro stem to perform intraocular pressure measurements with an external fiber optic cable connected to a light source. This patent has been extended for use in intraocular lenses as well.

New, Inexpensive Keratoprosthesis
The Boston keratoprosthesis is the gold standard in keratoprosthesis surgery worldwide. However, the high manufacturing cost makes it inaccessible for most patients with corneal blindness in the developing and under-developed world. Dr. Paschalis designed an inexpensive and aesthetically more favorable keratoprosthesis backplate using modern semiconductor fabrication techniques. He also performed novel studies to optimize its surface topography to improve bio-integration and reduce post-operative complication. He expects that this device will replace current prosthesis and be more accessible for patients around the world.

Drug Delivery System for Sustained Topical Delivery of Biologic Agents
This drug delivery system involves a hydrophobic polymer scaffold and a hydrogel impregnated with one or more biologic drugs. The sustained and selective release of biologics to localized tissue has many advantages, mainly maximizing the bioavailability and minimizing systemic side effects.