Director, Kolder Electrophysiology Laboratory, University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Director, Mouse Electroretinogram Laboratory, IVR
Ronald Keech Professor for Pediatric Genetic Eye Disease Research
Arlene V. Drack, MD is a clinician-scientist specializing in pediatric ophthalmology, with a subspecialty in genetic eye diseases. She directs the Kolder Electrophysiology Service in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Iowa, and utilizes rodent and pig electroretinography in her research. For fifteen years she did primarily clinical research and medical/surgical patient care; in 2008 she was recruited to the University of Iowa to start a pediatric genetic eye disease service and to be an investigator in the Phase III human gene therapy trial for RPE65-associated Leber congenital amaurosis. This trial, which resulted in the first FDA approved ocular gene therapy, is proof of concept that many “untreatable” causes of childhood blindness are potentially treatable, and forms the basis for her work developing treatments in animal models and participating in human clinical trials. She is an investigator in the current ProQr funded CEP290 LCA genetic treatment trial and also directs clinical studies in albinism. Dr. Drack also runs an active research lab developing gene therapy and other novel treatments in mouse and porcine models of human retinal degeneration. Current work is focused on Bardet Biedl Syndrome type 10, Juvenile X-linked Retinoschisis, and Batten disease. Dr. Drack’s experience with genetic testing and gene discovery combined with her skills as a clinician, ophthalmic surgeon and retinal electrophysiologist bring important translational aspects to her laboratory work. The many patients and families she cares for who are living with these challenging disorders inspires her research.