Bassnett Lab

Steven Bassnett, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Cell Biology & Physiology

Dr. Bassnett’s profile

Research Overview

The lens of the eye functions to form a sharply-focused image on the retina. To do this, it must remain transparent throughout life and flexible enough to allow the eye to accommodate properly. Loss of lens transparency (cataract) is the most common cause of blindness in the world. Age-related lens “stiffening” affects almost everyone over age fifty and results in an inability to focus on near objects (presbyopia).

Our current research concerns the mechanisms regulating lens growth. Unlike many organ systems, the lens must have a precisely defined size and shape if it is to focus light sharply. Using confocal microscopy we have mapped the distribution of proliferating cells within the lens tissue and formulated mathematical models to study the growth process in detail.

The lens is centered on the optical axis by the ciliary zonule, an elaborate system of extracellular fibers. The fibers extend from the inner wall of the eye and attach to the lens at its equator.  Using mice deficient in zonule components, we are examining how mechanical forces exerted by the zonular fibers influence the proliferative behavior of the underlying cells and hence the optical performance of the lens.

Our work is funded primarily through grants from the National Eye Institute of the NIH.

We have also received support from National Marfan Foundation, Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), and the European Union.


Some recent publications from the Bassnett Lab

Targeted deletion of fibrillin-1 in the mouse eye results in ectopia lentis and other ocular phenotypes associated with Marfan syndrome

Jones W, Rodriguez J, Bassnett S. Dis Model Mech. 2019 Jan 1; 12(1)

The lens growth process.

Bassnett S, Šikić H. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2017 60:181-200.

A full lifespan model of vertebrate lens growth.

Šikić H, Shi Y, Lubura S, Bassnett S. R Soc Open Sci. 2017 4(1):160695. 

Proteomic Analysis of the Bovine and Human Ciliary Zonule.

De Maria A, Wilmarth PA, David LL, Bassnett S. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017 58(1):573-585. 

A stochastic model of eye lens growth.

Šikić H, Shi Y, Lubura S, Bassnett S. J Theor Biol. 2015 376:15-31.

Somatic Variants in the Human Lens Epithelium: A Preliminary Assessment.

Mesa R, Tyagi M, Harocopos G, Vollman D, Bassnett S. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 57(10):4063-75. 

Ocular phenotype of Fbn2-null mice.

Shi Y, Tu Y, Mecham RP, Bassnett S. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 54(12):7163-73. 

The penny pusher: a cellular model of lens growth.

Shi Y, De Maria A, Lubura S, Šikić H, Bassnett S. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 56(2):799-809. 

Link to Steven Bassnett’s publications on PubMed