Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
College of Medicine
Alfred Lewin’s research group is focused on understanding the pathogenic mechanism of blinding diseases and developing treatments for these currently incurable conditions.
Some of these diseases include retinitis pigmentosa, one of the most common inherited form of blindness. He also researches age-related macular degeneration, responsible for the primary cause of vision loss among older adults, and uveitis, an inflammation of the eye that causes blindness in patients who do not respond to treatment with traditional allergy medications.
His laboratory has made significant contributions to two gene therapies that are currently at the advanced stage of human clinical trials for the inherited form of blindness and a mitochondrial disease. Thus, he views his research agenda in the next several years as primarily translational in nature.
“We are currently trying to partner with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to move our gene therapy into human clinical trials, and we have taken steps to have our lead gene therapy vector recognized as an investigational new drug by the FDA,” Lewin said.
Research in his group will continue to optimize the gene therapy viral vector and seek to estimate the appropriate dosage and best route of delivery. In collaboration with investigators at the University of Pennsylvania and at the University of Louisville, Lewin intends to submit an NIH grant application to test the scope of mutations treatable by this therapy, thereby helping to determine how late in the disease’s progression the approach can continue to be effective.
“I hope that discoveries made in my lab or in other labs building on our research will lead to practical treatments for blinding diseases,” Lewin said. “I wish to see the students and post doctoral fellows I have helped to train make significant research contributions that will benefit human health.”
Lewin’s work has resulted in 135 peer-reviewed publications with 35 in the last five years. He has received several important awards, such as the Jules Stein Living Tribute Award from RP International, the Board of Directors Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the Elizabeth Anderson Macular Degeneration Research Award from the Bight Focus Foundation.
Lewin serves as co-director, and at times has served as interim director, of the MD/PhD program at the University of Florida. His teaching has led to several exemplary teaching awards from the College of Medicine, including an additional Doctoral Dissertation Mentoring Award.