uri icon
  • Contact Info
  • 202-994-0557

Mary Ann Stepp Faculty Member

Wound healing occurs without complications in most of us. Minor scrapes and cuts heal within a few days and are soon forgotten. Some people, however, do not heal well and either get infections which can be life threatening or scar excessively. An injury to the clear outer surface of the eye, the cornea, induces a complex series of events requiring new protein synthesis, cell migration, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. At a molecular level, the early wound response in the cornea is similar to that in the skin with a sheet of epithelial cells migrating into the wound area. My research has focused on developing a better understanding of how epithelial tissues in the cornea respond to injuries and identifying the proteins which mediate cell migration and cell proliferation. As we extend our understanding of how corneal tissues respond to injury, we are applying our knowledge to epidermal wound healing. We have developed an interest in the corneal sensory nerves and how they are maintained in the aging cornea, after injury, and in models of dry eye disease. One way we have been able to contribute to the research community at GWU has been to work with faculty in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. We have been fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Michael Keidar on a project to better understand the impact of cold plasma atmospheric jets on biological tissues and to help develop biological applications for this new technology. We have collaborated on several papers in the Applied Physics Journal, Plasma Processes Polymers, and Plasma Medicine. I am currently co-mentor to a second student in Dr. Keidar’s group (Eda Gjika). We have a second NIH grant with colleagues at Thomas Jefferson University to look at the roles played by immune cells in mediating tissue repair responses in the lens and cornea. These studies are showing that immune cells are present in the developing and adult lens. The roles they play in cataract development and the ability of the lens to respond to injury is not known. These studies are the most basic of those we have been doing and resulted in an exciting paper recently published recently in Molecular Biology of the Cell that looks at the role of the intermediate filament protein vimentin in mediating the wound response of the lens to injury. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5623-2538

Research Areas

GW Expert Finder utilizes up to four primary sources that shares data to populate individual profiles. Reference these FAQs for information on how to update your GW expert profile.
GW Expert Finder utilizes up to four primary sources that shares data to populate individual profiles. Reference these FAQs for information on how to update your GW expert profile.