The Value of Basic and Translational Research

Basic research is the foundation of medical discovery. Through it, we learn key information about the fundamental biological, molecular, and chemical processes of life.

Translational research is the process of taking a discovery from the laboratory into the clinic, where it can ultimately help people.  Often referred to as “bench to bedside” research, it encompasses several stages.  These include testing hypotheses using disease models in the laboratory, bringing new therapies to the clinic to determine their effectiveness in patients, and evaluating if new therapies lead to improved public health.

The mission of the Lowy Medical Research Institute is to improve the lives of people affected by MacTel by developing new therapies to treat or cure MacTel.  Realizing that mission requires us to engage in both basic and translational research.  LMRI supports basic research to learn more about the fundamental biology behind changes that occur in a MacTel eye.  LMRI also supports translational research, from preclinical studies to clinical trials.

At the Lowy Medical Research Institute, basic and translational research are tightly interconnected.  All of the basic science LMRI supports is directly related to MacTel.  The LMRI researchers who do basic research also have ongoing translational research projects.  Open lines of communication between scientists and clinicians speed the pace of discovery and translation to the clinic.

The LMRI research program is designed to help people with MacTel.  However, its discoveries will reach beyond the MacTel community.  The basic research program contributes to the fundamental knowledge of the eye, and could lead to new therapies or new ways of thinking about other forms of vision disease.


Interdisciplinary Research

The Lowy Medical Research Institute supports a world-class laboratory research program devoted to the study of macular telangiectasia type 2. This interdisciplinary research program includes both clinicians and scientists who study the eye, along with a team of geneticists with expertise in inherited eye disorders and statistical analyses.

The laboratory research program complements LMRI’s clinical research program, and there is substantial cross-talk between the groups. In fact, many of our laboratory scientists are themselves clinicians, or they partner at their home institute with a clinical researcher who also studies MacTel.

LMRI’s laboratory research encompasses the cell types known to be affected by MacTel: photoreceptors, Müller glia, blood vessels, and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. It also includes the study of cellular and tissue-specific abnormalities relevant to MacTel, including macular pigments and metabolic changes. The program also includes collaboration with experts in deep learning and machine learning who use computers to analyze large numbers of retinal images to identify and study MacTel.  LMRI has dedicated substantial resources to identifying the genetic basis for MacTel through its genetics program, which has led to important insights into factors that contribute to the disease.

One of the strengths of the Lowy Medical Research Institute is its ability to quickly respond to new discoveries.  LMRI continues to bring in new collaborators and move research in new directions based on insights derived from the research program.

Collaborating Investigators

Collaborating Investigators

The Lowy Medical Research Institute works in collaboration with scientific investigators at universities around the world to study macular telangiectasia type 2. Scientists are invited to participate in LMRI research based on the specific expertise each brings to the project. LMRI-affiliated laboratory and clinical researchers share information about MacTel with each other to advance both knowledge about the disease, and the mission of LMRI.

Research Portal

The Lowy Medical Research Institute investigators include clinical, laboratory, and genetics experts from around the world working together to study a single disease, MacTel. The group gathers together a few times each year, and the collaborative nature of these meetings is intellectually exciting and extremely productive. The Research Hub was designed in the spirit of these meetings, as a protected space to share clinical and laboratory research within the LMRI community.

The Collaborative Research Hub is a protected website, available only to members of the LMRI research community. It was created to centralize our knowledge and improve the flow of ideas for research.  Investigators interested in becoming part of the MacTel research community should contact us directly.


How we see In healthy vision, light enters the eye through the cornea, which is the clear, rounded covering at the front of the eye. Light passes through the lens, which focuses

Müller Glia

Glial cells are found in the central nervous system; the brain, spinal cord, and retina; where they serve an important role supporting neurons. Müller glia are a type of glial cell found


Metabolism encompasses all of the biochemical processes that occur in a


The Lowy Medical Research Institute is working to identifying the gene, or genes, that lead to the development of macular telangiectasia type 2. The search for a “MacTel gene” began as part

Blood Vessels

Blood vessels deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The retina is very energetically demanding, and therefore the flow of blood to the retina is carefully regulated. In the course of macular telangiectasia

RPE Cells

The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is a single layer of hexagonal-shaped cells that is located between the photoreceptors of the retina and the blood vessels of the choroid, at the back of

Macular Pigments

Macular pigments are derived from a