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Seeing the joys of the SRTP – meet Caitlin Chang, MEDS 2015

Monday, July 8, 2013

Meet Caitlin Chang, Schulich Medicine, Class of 2015, as she shares her experience, so far, conducting glaucoma research as part of the Summer Research Training Program (SRTP).

I decided to participate in the SRTP as my summers have often been filled with research projects, and this was a great opportunity to learn more about a field that I might be interested in practicing in!

With my supervisor, Dr. Cindy Hutnik, we're looking at the trabecular meshwork, which are cells in the eye that are involved in the outflow pathway for aqueous humour. When this pathway is blocked, or clogged, people are at risk for an increase in intraocular pressure and developing glaucoma.

We are looking at these cells in primary cell culture as a model for glaucoma. Stretching the cells - which is a way of applying mechanical strain - will likely cause both physiological and pathological changes, depending on the time and the amount of stretch. We are interested in exploring the responses of these cells to stretch, especially the cell-to-cell communication that occurs through gap junctions.

The goal of this research is to uncover pathways which give us a better understanding of glaucoma. Ultimately, we would like to be able to better help patients with glaucoma. At the present moment, there are very few good models for glaucoma in basic research, and it's a non-curable disease (once vision loss has commenced, we can only slow, not reverse it). I would hope that someday, my research can contribute to better vision outcomes for these patients

The experience has been great. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they might enjoy research.