Photo of Royce  Mohan, Ph.D.

Royce Mohan, Ph.D.

Professor, Neuroscience
Vice Chair, Graduate Programs Committee
Academic Office Location:
Neuroscience
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-3401
Phone: 860-679-2020
Fax: 860-679-8766
Website(s):

Neuroscience Graduate Program

The Mohan lab studies the process of injury and disease-related fibrosis in both the cornea and retina that leads to blindness. The lab is especially interested in druggable targets that could be potential avenues for drug discovery and translated into ocular therapeutics.

Education
DegreeInstitutionMajor
B.Sc.Loyola CollegeChemistry
M.Sc.Indian Institute of TechnologyChemistry
Ph.D.The Ohio State UniversityBiochemistry

Post-Graduate Training
TrainingInstitutionSpecialty
PostdoctoralHarvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s HospitalRheumatology and Immunology
PostdoctoralTufts University School MedicineOphthalmology
PostdoctoralNew England Medical CenterOphthalmology

Awards
Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
DEAN'S MENTOR AWARDUCONN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
John A. and Florence Mattern Solomon Endowed Chair in Vision Biology and Eye DiseasesUniversity of Connecticut Health Center
President's Award for Excellence in ResearchFight for Sight Foundation, Inc.
Travel Fellowship to Paris, France International Society for Eye Research
National Eye Institute Fellowship, Woods Hole, MANational Eye Institute, NIH
Monsanto Biotechnology Fellowship, Research in Chemical and Life SciencesMonsanto, St. Louis, Missouri
Winner of 16th Annual ICSABER Graduate Research Forum in Basic ScienceOhio State University
MCM Scholarship for Chemistry, 1984-86Indian Institute of Technology
Merit Certificate, Chemistry Quiz CompetitionRoyal Society of Chemists, London
B.S. Scholarship for Chemistry, India, 1981-84Army Educational Fund
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program CommitteeAdvisory CommitteeVice ChairUConn HealthUniversity2020
Student Mentorship CommitteeAdvisory CommitteememberUConn HealthUniversity2020
Associate Editor, Journal of Neuroscience ResearchEditorial BoardManuscript review and managementExternalInternational2019
Medical Student Research Proposal Advisory MemberAdvisory CommitteeScientific project assessmentUConn HealthUniversity2019
Neuroscience area of concentrationEducation CommitteeAssoc. Program DirectorUConn HealthUniversity20182020
Medical School Item Writing & Review CommitteeEducation Committeemedical school exam assessmentUConn HealthUniversity2018
Faculty Development Advisory CommitteeAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity2016
Health Center Research Advisory Council (HCRAC)Advisory CommitteememberUConn HealthUniversity2016
Graduate Student RecruitmentEducation CommitteeApplicants interview and evaluationUConn HealthUniversity2010

Study of Muller glia in retinal degeneration; myofibroblasts and Schwann cells in corneal nerve regeneration, pain and fibrosis; Novel in vivo imaging probes for type III intermediate filaments.

The Mohan lab is interested in how the human eye when subjected to injury or afflicted by disease can be healed. We study two aspects of the eye; the clear transparent cornea and the neurosensory retina that is an extension of the CNS. In the cornea, a current a focus of the lab is the study of myofibroblasts, a differentiated cell type that drives corneal fibrosis leading to blindness.  We discovered that overexpression of the type III intermediate filament protein vimentin drives corneal fibrosis, and our search of a potent inhibitor of fibrosis led to the discovery of the small molecule withaferin A that binds to vimentin. This small molecule is the first in class inhibitor for the IF proteins, and hence, we have developed fluorescent analogs as imaging probes to study vimentin and, its related protein glial fibrillary acidic protein in the retina. Mechanistic studies to unravel signaling mechanisms in corneal fibrosis are also currently being pursued. Another important cell type of the cornea is the Schwann cell that ensheaths and supports corneal axons. Following axonal lesions, such as after surgical procedures (e.g. LASIK or corneal transplants), corneal nerve regeneration becomes aberrant and often is incomplete. To understand the involvement of corneal Schwann cells in nerve repair, our lab has unraveled the global transcriptome of corneal Schwann cells and novel druggable targets that have been identified by bioinformatics are being studied.

At the posterior end of the eye, we are interested in the process of retinal degeneration focusing on the disease known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the world’s most common form of CNS neurodegeneration affecting over 10 million people in the US alone. Investigating Muller glial cells to the generalized stress response known as reactive gliosis, we have discovered a novel druggable target, peptidyl arginine deiminase 4 (PAD4) that is associated with retinal pathology. PAD4 catalyzes a posttranslational modification of proteins known as citrullination. We are now investigating the role of PAD4 in AMD and its functional deficiency induced by genetic and pharmacological means is being tested in animal models. Ultimately, we would like to illuminate targets such as PAD4 for drug development towards our overarching goal of developing a treatment for AMD patients.

Research opportunities to study corneal Schwann cells in animal models of injury and regeneration


Research opportunities to study the retina in age-related macular degeneration animal models of fibrosis 

Accepting Lab Rotation Students: Fall 2021 and Spring 2022

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • The Use of Withaferin A to Study Intermediate Filaments.
    Mohan, Royce; Bargagna-Mohan, Paola Methods in enzymology 2016 Jan;187-218
  • Herbal Medicinal Products as Anti-Angiogenic Agents
    Mohan, R. Evaluation of Herbal Medicinal Products-Perspectives of Quality, Safety and Efficacy 2009 Jan;174-182
  • Regulation of Matrix Metalloproteinase Gene Expression
    Fini, M.E., Cook, J.R., Mohan, R., & Brinckerhoff, C.E. Matrix Metalloproteinase 1998 Jan;300-356
  • Sclera
    Panjwani, N. & Mohan, R. Cornea 1997 Jan;29-40
  • Mutual Triggering of Gene Expression in Plant-Fungus Interactions
    Kolattukudy, P.E., Podila, G.K., Sherf, B.A., Bajar, M.A. & MOHAN, R. Advances in Molecular Genetics of Plant-Microbe Interactions 1990 Jan;242-249

Abstracts

  • A One-Two Punch to Corneal Fibrosis and Retinal Gliosis in Alkali Injury
    Royce Mohan, John W. Wizeman and Paola Bargagna-Mohan Toxicology Letters (Special Issue) 2020 Oct;331 (1)(1):1-22; S12-13

Other

Reviews

Title or AbstractTypeSponsor/EventDate/YearLocation
Royce Mohan; Gwendolyn Schultz; Connor Treadwell; Paul Robson; Paola Bargagna-Mohan. The Nerve of Corneal Schwann Cells! Illuminated by Single Cell RNA Transcriptomics. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci.. 2020; 61(7):2928PosterAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2020Baltimore, MD - virtual May 3-7, 2020
Royce Mohan, John Wizeman and Paola Bargagna-Mohan. One-Two Punch to Corneal Fibrosis and Retinal Gliosis in Alkali InjuryDevelopment of Medical Countermeasures to Treat Acute and Chronic Effects of Ocular Chemical Toxicity (Bethesda, MD) Feb 25-26, 2020TalkDevelop Med Countermeasures: Acute and Chronic Effects of Ocular Chemical2020Bethesda, MD (in person) Feb 25-26, 2020
Gwendolyn Schultz, Paola Bargagna-Mohan, Bruce Rheaume, Paul Robson, and Royce Mohan. An Eye for Detail: Examining the Role of Corneal Schwann cells.New England Ophthalmological Society Annual Conference. NEOS abstract June 5, 2020.PosterNEOS2020Boston, MA - virtual June 5, 2020
Paola Bargagna-Mohan, Connor Treadwell, Katherine S. Given, Wendy B. Macklin, and Royce Mohan. The Proteolipid Protein 1 Promoter Drives Reporter Gene Expression in Corneal Schwann Cells. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci.. 2020; 61(7):3554PosterARVO2020Baltimore, MD - virtual May 3-7, 2020
Sarah Ilona Palko, Nicholas Saba, Humza Zaidi, Benjamin D. Nicholas, Yosuke Nagasaka, Jayakrishna Ambati, Bradley D. Gelfand, Paola Bargagna-Mohan, and Royce Mohan. PAD4 is Upregulated in the Accelerated Mouse Model of AMD and Human AMD. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci.. 2020; 61(7):3689.PosterAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2020Baltimore, MD - virtual May 3-7, 2020
PAD4 in the Accelerated Mouse Model of AMD and Human AMD. PosterAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2020 MD
The Proteolipid Protein 1 Promoter Drives Reporter Gene Expression in Corneal Schwann Cells. PosterAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.2020 MD
Gwendolyn Schultz, Maria Lopez, Royce MOHAN and Paola Bargagna-Mohan. Corneal Schwann Cells Differentiate into Myofibroblasts After InjuryPosterAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2019Vancuver, Canada
Paola Bargagna-Mohan, Akihiro Ishii, Gwendolyn Schultz, Maria Lopez, Rashmi Bansal and Royce MOHAN. mTOR Regulates the Differentiation of Corneal Schwann cells into MyofibroblastsTalkAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2019Vancuver, Canada
Sarah IIona Palko, Nicholas Saba, Megan Rouillard, Paola Bargagna-Mohan and Royce MOHAN. PAD4: A Potential Target for Gliosis in Age Related Macular DegenerationPosterAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2019Vancuver, Canada
Paola Bargagna-Mohan, Sarah I. Palko, Shaan Kamal, and Royce MOHAN*. Corneal Myofibroblasts: Evidence of Differentiation from Adult Schwann Cells in InjuryTalkGordon Conference on Cornea and Ocular Surface Biology and Pathology2018Ventura, CA
Paola Bargagna-Mohan, Sarah I. Palko, Shaan Kamal, and Royce MOHAN*. Corneal Myofibroblasts: Evidence of Differentiation from Adult Schwann Cells in InjuryPosterGordon Conference on Cornea and Ocular Surface Biology and Pathology2018Ventura, CA
Differential Corneal Fibrosis in Desmin DeficiencyPosterAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2017Baltimore, MD
A Novel Vimentin Probe Illuminates Mitochondrial DynamicsTalkAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2017Baltimore, MD
Expression and Inhibition of Peptidyl Arginine Deiminase (PAD) Enzymes in Eye InjuryTalkAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2017Baltimore, MD
Vimentin Phosphorylation Patterns Differentiate Corneal Fibroblasts from Myofibroblasts In Vitro and During FibrosisTalkAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2015Denver, CO
A Novel Mouse Model of Corneal Neurofibroma in NF-1TalkAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology2014Orlando, FL