Yichen Wang - 2015 Fight for Sight Award

Yichen Wang, a Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences, was awarded the ​ 2015 Fight for Sight - Aniridia Foundation International Summer Student Fellowship to work on her dissertation project entitled: "Molecular mechanisms of Aniridia Fibrosis Syndrome (AFS)".  Aniridia, which is first identified when a baby is born without the iris of their eye, is a genetic condition usually caused by mutations in the gene encoding Pax6, a transcription factor important for development of the eye.  Individuals suffering from aniridia usually have poor vision due to disorganization of the retina.  However, this poor vision often deteriorates further as these people age due to the early development of cataracts, corneal scaring and glaucoma.  While many of these conditions can be treated surgically, the post-surgical outcomes are often poor due to a tendency to develop severe post-surgical scaring, Aniridia Fibrosis Syndrome.  Ms. Wang's work seeks to understand the reasons for this aggressive scar formation and potential ways that it can be prevented.