Kip Connor, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology

Massachusetts Eye and Ear

MGH ECOR Ophthalmology Representative
Associate Scientist

 

Research Summary

Center/Research Area Affiliations

Biography

The overarching goals that drive the Connor laboratory’s research is to understand the mechanisms that drive severe vision loss, which has a profound physical, social, and emotional impact on the lives of individuals who must adjust and adapt to a world inherently designed for the sighted. Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired, with about 90% living in low-income settings. While the price of losing one’s sight is immeasurable, the direct cost of vision loss worldwide is estimated at $2.3 trillion with indirect costs (e.g., lost productivity, family support, etc.) contributing an additional $652 billion.

A commonality associated with ocular disorders is a spike in immune activity in the ocular microenvironment associated with disease. Classically, the retina and the central nervous system have long been considered immunoprivileged sites within the body. This is not to say that these sites lack immunity; rather, they are capable of exhibiting a contained yet modifiable form of immunological response. Indeed, an intricate immune surveillance system exists within the retina that can interact with the retinal cellular milieu both during development and in response to injury or disease. While activation of this surveillance system can help protect and repair the delicate neural tissue of the retina in certain disease states, over-activation of this system can exacerbate disease pathology, thereby worsening vision loss. Our recent work has begun to outline the involvement of both bioactive lipid metabolites and the complement system in regulating retinal inflammation and homeostasis in a number of salient ocular pathologies including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity, uveitis and retinal detachment.

Download his CV [PDF] for more information.

Education

1999: B.S., Biology, American International College

2000: B.S., Biochemistry, American International College

2003: M.S., Biomedical Sciences, Albany Medical College

2005: Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, Albany Medical College

Postgraduate Training

2005-2007: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Ophthalmology, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Honors

2017: Excellence in Mentoring Award – Young mentor

2013: Research to Prevent Blindness Special Scholar Award

2008/2013/2014: Harvard Medical School Excellence in Tutorial Award for faculty

Projects

Research Interests

  • The role of neuroinflammation on retinal disease.
  • Role of bioactive lipids in regulating neuroinflammation
  • Role of the complement system in ocular disease regulation

Publications

Below is a list of selected publications. View his publications on Google Scholar.

  1. Sweigard JH, Yanai R, Gaissert P, Saint-Geniez M, Kataoka K, Thanos A, Stahl GL, Lambris JD, Connor KM. The alternative complement pathway regulates pathological angiogenesis in the retina. FASEB J. 2014 Jul;28(7):3171-82. 
  2. Yanai R, Mulki L, Hasegawa E, Takeuchi K, Sweigard H, Suzuki J, Gaissert P, Vavvas DG, Sonoda KH, Rothe M, Schunck WH, Miller JW, Connor KM. Cytochrome P450-generated metabolites derived from ω-3 fatty acids attenuate neovascularization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jul 1;111(26):9603-8.  
  3. Sweigard JH, Matsumoto H, Smith KE, Kim LA, Paschalis EI, Okonuki Y, Castillejos A, Kataoka K, Hasegawa E, Yanai R, Husain D, Lambris JD, Vavvas D, Miller JW, Connor KM. Inhibition of the alternative complement pathway preserves  photoreceptors after retinal injury. Sci Transl Med. 2015 Jul 22;7(297):297ra116. 
  4. Hasegawa E, Inafuku S, Mulki L, Okunuki Y, Yanai R, Smith KE, Kim CB, Klokman  G, Bielenberg DR, Puli N, Falck JR, Husain D, Miller JW, Edin ML, Zeldin DC, Lee  KSS, Hammock BD, Schunck WH, Connor KM. Cytochrome P450 monooxygenase lipid metabolites are significant second messengers in the resolution of choroidal neovascularization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Sep 5;114(36):E7545-E7553. 
  5. Okunuki Y, Mukai R, Pearsall EA, Klokman G, Husain D, Park DH, Korobkina E, Weiner HL, Butovsky O, Ksander BR, Miller JW, Connor KM. Microglia inhibit photoreceptor cell death and regulate immune cell infiltration in response to retinal detachment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jul 3;115(27):E6264-E6273.