Vision Researcher Joins Krembil

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Dr. Brian Ballios studies stem cell therapies for inherited and acquired eye diseases.
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Dr. Brian Ballios is a new Clinician Scientist at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute.

The Krembil Research Institute is pleased to welcome Dr. Brian Ballios as its newest Clinician Scientist at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute.

Dr. Ballios’ research is focused on developing stem cell therapies for inherited and acquired retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. These diseases result in progressive vision loss for which existing treatments can only slow progression.

“As a physician, I am struck by the immense personal toll of eye disease,” explains Dr. Ballios. “It is very motivating to conduct research that has the potential to make tremendous improvements in patients’ quality of life. I find inspiration in these patients’ journeys and share their eagerness for cures.”

Leveraging his background in engineering and medicine, Dr. Ballios developed the world’s first injectable biomaterial-based delivery system for transplanting stem cells into the retina. This work launched a new field of study into the use of biomaterials to improve cell transplantation in the retina. He also developed methods to efficiently generate light-sensitive cells from stem cells to replace the cells lost in retinal degeneration.

At Krembil, Dr. Ballios’ research program will bring together diverse fields that include retinal neurobiology, stem cell biology and bioengineering. He will continue to develop methods to generate light sensitive cells from stem cells and promote their survival and integration into the damaged eye. He will also develop accurate models of human inherited retinal disease and investigate the unique features of these conditions to improve the effectiveness of cell therapies.

“Coming to UHN is about joining an ecosystem of discovery. We have the best-of-the-best clinicians and vision science researchers,” says Dr. Ballios. “The Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute and the Krembil Research Institute bring together these leaders with a shared goal: to restore vision and improve the lives of patients.”

In 2017, Dr. Ballios was the inaugural recipient of Fighting Blindness Canada’s Clinician-Scientist Emerging Leader Award. His research has also been funded by the BrightFocus Foundation and the Retina Foundation of Canada. This year, he was awarded a Career Development Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness U.S.  He is currently the J. Ardeth Hill – Fighting Blindness Canada Professor in Ocular Genetics at the University of Toronto.

At the University of Toronto, Dr. Ballios completed his Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy degrees through the combined MD/PhD program, a clinical residency in Ophthalmology and postdoctoral training in the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences. At Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard University, he completed a clinical fellowship in Inherited Retinal Diseases.

Welcome to Krembil, Dr. Ballios!