Janis Eells, PhD

Credentials: Department of Biomedical Sciences,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Position title: Professor

Email: jeells@uwm.edu

Phone: 608-215-5405

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Biomedical Sciences
PO Box 413
Milwaukee WI 53201

Keywords: Mitochondrial signaling, photobiomodulation, retinal degernation

BS 1973, Microbiology, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID
MS 1976, Pharmacology/Microbiology, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID
PhD 1981, Pharmacology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Postdoctoral Fellowship 1981-83, Pharmacology/Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Postdoctoral Fellowship 1984-86, Neurotoxicology, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

The Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Retinal Degeneration and Disease:
Mitochondria play a key role in cellular energy metabolism and intracellular signaling processes. These organelles are involved in many complex signaling cascades regulating both cell survival and cell death. Importantly, mitochondrial dysfunction and the resulting oxidative stress are central in the pathogenesis of aging and degenerative diseases including retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. Research in Dr. Eells’ laboratory is directed at understanding the mitochondrial signaling pathways that regulate the processes of cellular aging and degeneration with the long-term goal of learning how to protect cells and tissues against these degenerative processes.

Photobiomodulation in Retinal Degeneration and Disease:
Evidence is growing that exposure of cells to low-energy photon irradiation in the near-infrared (NIR) range of the spectrum, collectively termed photobiomodulation (PBM), can restore the function of damaged mitochondria, upregulate cytoprotective factors and prevent apoptotic cell death. Photobiomodulation studies in Dr. Eells’ laboratory have demonstrated improved clinical outcome, increased production of cytoprotective factors and improved cell survival in animal models of retinal degeneration. Investigations into the mechanisms of photobiomodulation have shown that NIR photons are absorbed by the mitochondrial photoacceptor molecule, cytochrome c oxidase, triggering intracellular signaling pathways that culminate in improved mitochondrial energy metabolism, increased cytoprotective factor production and cell survival. In her research laboratory, Dr. Eells employs electrophysiological, neuroimaging, histochemical and molecular methodologies.