About our lab
We are a multidisciplinary group united by a passion for vision restoration. We develop novel therapies for glaucoma, traumatic optic neuropathies, optic pathway glioma, and other diseases characterized by retinal ganglion cell and photoreceptor loss. To achieve this audacious goal, we combine the achievements in regenerative medicine, retinal cell biology and development, advanced transcriptomics, transplantation, and functional imaging of the retinal neurons on a single cell level.
We employ automation, artificial intelligence, and quantitative strategies to produce retinal and other organoids from human, tree shrew, and mouse stem cells. We are particularly interested in using this fascinating model to test therapies, study cell-cell interaction, model diseases and produce retinal ganglion cells for transplantation.
We perform deep advanced analysis of single-cell RNA-, ATAC-, ChIP-, VDJ-, and spatial-seq data, focusing on cell specification, maturation, and cell-to-cell communication in disease and regeneration. Species include humans, dogs, mice, and axolotl.
Organoids: retina and beyond
Integrated multi-omics analysis
Transplantation and cell therapy development
The retina of the eye provides a unique setting to study and control donor cell fate on a single level. The lab focuses on cell transplantation, emphasizing the microenvironment and its role in donor cell maturation and integration.
Petr Baranov
Head of the Lab
My lab is committed to search for novel therapies for glaucoma, traumatic optic neuropathies and other diseases characterized by retinal ganglion cell loss. We explore cell replacement and neuroprotection strategies. To achieve this audacious goal we combine the achievements in regenerative medicine, retinal cell biology and development, transplantation and functional imaging of the retinal neurons on single cell level.
Josy Augustine
Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow
My research focuses on elucidating the changes in metabolism of heterogenous RGCs during Diabetic retinopathy. I want to establish the susceptible and resilient RGCs during hyperglycaemia, which would be vital in developing novel therapeutics for neurodegeneration in the diabetic retina.

Emil Kriukov
My primary goal of the research is to build the biggest picture possible of cell ontogeny in dynamics using multiomics data and computational approaches. By the ontogeny, cell-fate-wise, I understand all the changes occurring, including development, aging, disease, and, of course, the route retinal ganglion cells have to undergo from differentiation to their functional integration upon transplantation.
Volha Malechka
Postdoctoral fellow, MD
My long-term career goal is to contribute to ophthalmology field in improving and restoring human vision by constantly building up strong scientific knowledge and clinical skills.
Sergio Pestun
Student Intern
My focus lies on analyzing bulk and single cell RNA sequencing data using tools such as CellChat, DESeq2 and GSEA. Specifically I will be looking into cell communication pathway networks in damaged axolotl limbs and retinas to improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind their regeneration.
Simatul Rashid
Research Assistant
I am focusing on investigating the early differentiation and maturation of organoids by utilizing retinoic acid in human stem cells. My aim is to gain a deeper understanding of the various factors that play a role in the initial stages of differentiation. By doing so, I hope to make significant contributions toward the development of innovative treatments for conditions like glaucoma and optic neuropathy. Ultimately, my long-term aspiration is to establish a career in clinical ophthalmology while actively participating in groundbreaking research.
Dayron Rivera
Research Assistant
My focus lies on optimizing in vitro techniques such as organoids and 2D differentiations to minimize the conversion constraints from stem cells to retinal ganglion cells. By investigating the impact of extracellular matrix proteins on retinal ganglion cells subtypes, survival, and neurite outgrowth, I aim to unravel their role in guiding retinal ganglion cellsdevelopment and function across various organisms.
Jonathan Soucy
Postdoctoral fellow, PhD
I am focused on improving the structural and functional integration of donor retinal ganglion cells by directing neural migration, controlling their microenvironment, and manipulating host neurons. I believe that we need a better understanding of fundamental principles that control donor neuron integration in the retina and brain to guide RGCs to their natural connecting points and improve cell replacement therapy outcomes. These include homophilic cell-cell interactions, chemokine signal cues, neurotrophic factors, migration modes, and neural activity.
  • Christian Akotoye, BS 06/2021 – 07/2021 MD student, Case Western Reserve University
  • Volha (Olga) Malechka, MD 02/2022 – present Postdoc, SERI/HMS
  • Sophia Bauer, BS 09/2021 – 08/2022 MS student, Northeastern University
  • John Dayron Rivera, BS 04/2022 – present Research Technician, SERI/HMS
  • Emil Kriukov 07/2022 – present Research Fellow, SERI/HMS
  • Julia Oswald, PhD 10/2016 – 05/2021 Scientist II, Ring Therapeutics
  • Tatiana Perepelkina, MD 11/2016 – 07/2019 Ophthalmology Resident, LSU Health Shreveport
  • Evgenii Kegeles, BS 10/2018 – 08/2019 PhD Student, Harvard University
  • Monichan Phay, PhD 08/2019 – 04/2022 Research Scientist, Leal Therapeutics
  • John Masland, BS 09/2019 - 08/2020 Research Assistant
  • Jonathan Soucy, PhD 07/2020 – present Postdoc, SERI/HMS
Featured publications
Featured publications
    Optic neuropathies, including glaucoma, are a group of neurodegenerative diseases, characterized by the progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), leading to irreversible vision loss. While previous studies demonstrated the potential to replace RGCs with primary neurons from developing mouse retinas, their use is limited clinically.
    Transplantation of miPSC/mESC-derived retinal ganglion cells into healthy and glaucomatous retinas

    J. Oswal, E. Kegeles, T. Minelli, P. Volchkov, P. Baranov | Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. | 2021
    We have developed a deep learning-based computer algorithm to recognize and predict retinal differentiation in stem cell-derived organoids based on bright-field imaging. The three-dimensional "organoid" approach for the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSC) into retinal and other neural tissues has become a major in vitro strategy to recapitulate development.
    Convolutional Neural Networks Can Predict Retinal Differentiation in Retinal Organoids

    E. Kegeles, A. Naumov, E. Karpulevich, P. Volchkov, P. Baranov | Front Neurosci. | 2020
    A common event in optic neuropathies is the loss of axons and death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) resulting in irreversible blindness. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway agonists have been shown to foster axon regeneration and RGC survival in animal models of optic nerve damage.
    Multifarious Biologic Loaded Liposomes that Stimulate the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Signaling Pathway Show Retina Neuroprotection after Retina Damage

    A. Eriksen, R. Eliasen, J. Oswald, P. Kempen, F. Melander, T. Andersen, M. Young, P. Baranov, A. Urquhart | ACS Nano | 2018
    Regenerative medicine in the retina: from stem cells to cell replacement therapy
    J. Oswald, P. Baranov | Ther Adv Ophthalmol. | 2018
    Following the fast pace of the growing field of stem cell research, retinal cell replacement is finally emerging as a feasible mean to be explored for clinical application. Although neuroprotective treatments are able to slow the progression of retinal degeneration caused by diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, they are insufficient to fully halt disease progression and unable to recover previously lost vision.
    Degenerative diseases of the retina, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, are characterized by the irreversible loss of photoreceptors. Several growth factors, including glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), have been shown to rescue retinal neurons.
    A Novel Neuroprotective Small Molecule for Glial Cell Derived Neurotrophic Factor Induction and Photoreceptor Rescue

    P. Baranov, H. Lin, K. McCabe, D. Gale, S. Cai, B. Lieppman, D. Morrow, P. Lei, J. Liao, M. Young | J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. | 2017
    Development of an effective cell-based therapy is highly dependent upon having a reproducible cell source suitable for transplantation. One potential source, isolated from the developing fetal neural retina, is the human retinal progenitor cell (hRPC). One limiting factor for the use of hRPCs is their in vitro expansion limit.
    Low-oxygen culture conditions extend the multipotent properties of human retinal progenitor cells

    P. Baranov, B. Tucker, M. Young | Tissue Eng Part A. | 2014
    We need your ideas and expertise to make Vision Restoration possible. Send your CV and short personal statement to Petr @ Mass Eye and Ear if you believe that the Journey is the Reward.
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    The support from funding agencies allows us to develop novel cell-based therapies for blinding diseases, educate patients, families and invest in the next generation of brilliant scientists, ophthalmologists, physicians and entrepreneurs. We are grateful to The Gilbert Family Foundation, National Eye Institute, BrightFocus Foundation, Massachusetts Lions Club, The Iraty Award, Research to Prevent Blindness and private donors. Each contribution brings us a step closer to our Audacious Goal of Vision Restoration.
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