Center/Research Area Affiliations
Dr. Lei's research aims to prevent and cure blinding eye diseases by elucidating their molecular bases, identifying potential therapeutic targets, and demonstrating whether the targets can be used for therapeutic purposes. VEGF plays a central role in angiogenesis— new blood vessel growth from pre-existing vasculature—and its receptor VEGFR2 mediates almost all known VEGF-induced output, including neovascularization. The inhibition of VEGF-stimulated activation of VEGFR2 has become important therapy to treat abnormal angiogenesis associated with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Dr. Lei's current research explores a novel therapeutic approach to PDR and AMD with an AAV-CRISPR/Cas9-based gene therapy.
Dr. Lei also investigates the molecular mechanisms by which platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) promotes experimental proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR). His research demonstrated that non-PDGFs in the vitreous engage their own receptors and thereby increase the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This change activates Src family kinases that phosphorylate PDGFR and thereby persistently trigger downstream signaling events such as P13K/Akt, which reduces the level of p53. Relaxing the p53 checkpoint potentiates the cell's ability to proliferate and survive, and facilitates the development of PVR.
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Ph.D., Pharmacology, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing (2002)
Ophthalmology Postdoctoral Fellowship, Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School (2002-2007)
2005: The Second Prize of Beijing Science and Technology Progress Award, Beijing Association for Science and Technology, Beijing, China
2018: Gragoudas Prize Winner for the Best Basic and Translational Paper in Retina (Senior Author), Massachusetts Eye and Ear