Debasish Sinha, PhD

  • Jennifer Salvitti Davis, M.D. Chair in Ophthalmology Research
  • Professor of Ophthalmology, Cell Biology and Developmental Biology
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Adjunct Faculty, Ophthalmology, The John's Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Debasish Sinha is the Jennifer Salvitti Davis, M.D. Chair in Ophthalmology Research and Professor of Ophthalmology, Cell Biology and Developmental Biology. He is also an adjunct faculty, Ophthalmology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His major research focus is to understand the mechanisms that regulate lysosome/autophagy degenerative process in retinal pigmented-epithelial cells that contribute to the early stages of age-related macular degeneration.

Representative Publications

Original articles

  1. Zigler JS Jr. et al. Mutation in the bA3/A1-crystallin gene impairs phagosome degradation in the retinal pigmented epithelium of the rat. Journal of Cell Science (2011), 124: 523-531. PMID: 21266465.
  2. Valapala M et al. Impaired endolysosomal function disrupts Notch signaling in optic nerve astrocytes. Nature Communications (2013), 4: 1629. PMID: 23535650.
  3. Valapala M et al. Lysosomal-mediated waste clearance in retinal pigmented epithelial cells is regulated by CRYBA1/bA3/A1-crystallin via V-ATPase-MTORC1 signaling. Autophagy (2014), 10(3): 480-496. PMID: 24468901.
  4. Valapala M et al.  Increased Lipocalin-2 in the retinal pigment epithelium of Cryba1 cKO mice is associated with a chronic inflammatory response. Aging Cell (2014), 13(6): 1091-4. PMID: 25257511.
  5. Shang P et al. The amino acid transporter SLC36A4 regulates the amino acid pool in retinal pigmented epithelial cells and mediates the mechanistic target of rapamycin, complex 1 signaling. Aging Cell (2017), 16 (2): 349-359. PMID: 28083894.
  6. Ghosh S et al. Activating the AKT2-nuclear factor-kB-lipocalin-2 axis elicits an inflammatory response in age-related macular degeneration. The Journal of Pathology (2017), 241(5): 583-588. PMID: 28026019.
  7. Ghosh S et al.  A Role for bA3/A1-Crystallin in Type 2 EMT of RPE Cells Occurring in Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (2018), 59(4): AMD104-AMD113. PMID: 30098172.
  8. Wang J et al. ATAC-Seq analysis reveals a widespread decrease of chromatin accessibility in age-related macular degeneration. Nature Communications (2018), 9(1): 1364. PMID: 29636475.
  9. Ghosh S et al.  Neutrophils homing into the retina trigger pathology in early age-related macular degeneration. Communications Biology, (2019), 2: 348. PMID: 31552301.
  10. Yazdankhah M et al. Modulating EGFR/MTORC1/Autophagy as a potential therapy for Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PFV) disease. Autophagy (2020), 16(6): 1130-1142. PMID: 31462148.

Research Interest Summary


Research Interests

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the role of glia and glia-like cells (retinal pigmented epithelium) in ocular health and disease.  We use genetically engineered mouse and spontaneous mutant rat models as tools to decipher functions of these cells in health and disease.  The diseases we focus on are (1) Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) (2) Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and (3) Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PFV).


Christopher Fitting, BS, Research Techician

Stacey Hose, BA, Laboratory Manager

Peng Shang, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Meysam Yazdankhah, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Nadezda Stepicheva, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Sayan Ghosh, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Haitao Liu, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Urvi Gupta, Pre-Professional Scholars Program in Medicine - Case Western Reserve University, Research Trainee


Research Grants

RPB/IRRF Catalyst Award for innovative research approaches to AMD
F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd, Switzerland

Astellas Pharma, Inc., Japan

National Eye Institute, NIH

UAB Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging

UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center

Department of Ophthalmology, UPMC, start-up funds