Dr. Eyal Margalit directs the retina service at UNMC. Dr. Margalit is a clinician-scientist who had his early ophthalmology training in Israel. He then received extensive research and clinical fellowship training at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Besides conducting a busy clinical service managing complex retinal cases, he is one of the department’s most productive clinical scientists. He has done a remarkable job of getting residents and fellows involved in his research projects, and they have presented results at numerous national meetings and have published many articles in peer-reviewed journals. Last year, Dr. Margalit was honored with the prestigious Joseph P. Gilmore Award for his outstanding work on retinal prosthetic devices. He continues this work and collaborates with Wally Thoreson, Ph.D., Vice Chair for Research in our department. Dr. Thoreson has also received recognition for his elegant research in retinal physiology. The team headed by Dr. Margalit and Dr. Thoreson is identifying the mechanisms of signaling and processing in the retina, and applying that knowledge to the development of more sophisticated artificial retinal devices.
Dr. Iqbal Ahmad, Ph.D. rounds out the team of scientists working on retina research at UNMC. His focus is on stem cell biology. He has discovered that induced pluripotent stems cells are capable of generating a wide range of retinal cell types including rods, cones, and retinal ganglion cells. Reprogrammed cells may be used for treatment of degenerative eye diseases such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. In addition, reprogrammed cells can serve as a model for diseases and can be used for discovery of new drugs and gene therapy to treat eye diseases.
Dr. Thomas Hejkal remains very active in clinical practice and teaching in addition to his duties as chair. After completing a two-year faculty retina fellowship at UNMC in 2006, he shares the clinical care of retina patients with Dr. Margalit. He and Dr. Margalit also share a busy practice evaluating and treating premature infants for ROP at NICUs in Omaha and Lincoln. With his dual expertise in cataract surgery and retinal surgery, Dr. Hejkal gets many referrals for complicated cases involving both lens or IOL and vitreo-retinal problems.