Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Biological Sciences

Department or Program Chair

Maggie Louie, PhD

First Reader

Deepak Lamba, MBBS, PhD

Second Reader

Meredith Protas, Ph.D.


Degeneration of the rod and cone photoreceptors in the human retina is among the most common causes of blindness. Replacing these damaged photoreceptors may help to restore vision. Repairing the damaged retina relies on the insertion of new, healthy cells. Embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are two possible sources of photoreceptors to restore vision. Previous data shows that human ES cells and iPS cells can be differentiated into photoreceptors and transplanted into the eye to restore some vision. However, this process is inefficient, and costly. Here, we show a new method for inducing photoreceptor production from undifferentiated cells through the use of small molecules. Additionally, we aim to mimic retinal degenerations through oxidative stress to examine diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.