Preserving the Precious Gift of Sight

Brown Professorship

Rebecca Meyer Brown Professor

Aparna Lakkaraju, PhD

Assistant Professor

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

University of Wisconsin

Madison, WI


Dr. Lakkaraju's Research Project

Insight into the Cellular Basis of Retinal Degenerative Diseases


Current Research Interests

Dr. Lakkaraju studies the cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which perform critical homeostatic functions that are crucial for the health of the retina and for vision. It is now believed that the RPE is the site of initial insult that eventually culminates in vision loss in many retinal diseases including macular degeneration. Work from Dr. Lakkaraju's laboratory has shown that with age, RPE cells accumulate abnormal amounts of cholesterol, which causes intracellular traffic jams and compromises cell function. They are now investigating how the RPE handles cholesterol, how proteins and lipids are transported within these cells, and how essential housekeeping functions are impacted during aging, chronic stress and inflammation.

Long-term research goals: (i) to understand the pathology or retinal degenerative diseases at a cellular level using biochemistry, cell biology and high-resolution, high-speed live microscopy of healthy, aging and diseased RPE (from human donors, non-human primates, rodents and pigs); and (ii) to use this information to identify novel drug targets and investigate whether existing drugs like statins can help preserve vision in the aging or diseased retina.


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Mission of RRF

The mission of the Retina Research Foundation is to reduce retinal blindness worldwide by funding programs in research and education. As a public charity, RRF raises funds from the private sector and the investment of its endowment funds.

RRF’s 48th Anniversary

October 1, 2017