New NEI grant awarded to Dr. Steven Bassnett

Zonular fibers (green) attaching to the surface of the lens (red)

Congratulations to Dr. Steven Bassnett who has just received a four year grant from the National Eye Institute to study the biology of the ciliary zonule.

The zonule is a system of thin fibers that connects the lens to the inner wall of the eye (see picture above).  During the process of accommodation, the fibers transmit the forces that flatten the lens, allowing distant objects to be brought into focus.

Little is known about the composition of the fibers or the identity of the cells that produce them.  Breakage of zonular fibers occurs in diseases such as Marfan syndrome, and results in dislocation of the lens and cataracts.  Dr. Bassnett and his team will use a combination of molecular biological and biophysical measurements to gain insights into the structural and mechanical properties of zonular fibers and their role in healthy and diseased eyes.