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Amy Stark

Graduate Student, Pharmacology

Dr. John Penn (Thesis)
Dr. Miliam Brantley (Clinical)

I am interested in the pharmacologic regulation of molecular signaling pathways related to vascular disease. In my thesis work, I will be researching the contributions of individual prostanoids to inflammation underlying diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of irreversible vision loss in working age Americans. Prostanoids, a class of lipid signaling molecules composed of prostaglandins, prostacyclins, and thromboxanes, are generated through the metabolism of arachidonic acid by cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) and have noted proinflammatory properties. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin are common drugs that inhibit COX activity, yet chronic NSAID use can have serious gastrointestinal side effects. I aim to identify the distinct contributions of each prostanoid or its specific receptor(s) to retinal inflammation, using this information to explore targeted prostanoid receptor antagonists as potential therapeutics.