Staff Scientist 1
Catherine Cukras MD, PhD
Staff Scientist 1
Catherine Cukras MD, PhD, Bethesda, MD, United States
The Section on Unit on Clinical Investigation of Retinal Disease, Division of Intramural Research (DIR), National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, conducts prospective clinical studies in normal and abnormal functioning of the retina, particularly those of retina degenerations – including complex retina diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), drug toxicities, and monogenic retina disease. The major aims of the section include an understanding of the pathophysiology of retinal disease as assessed with functional testing and multi-modal imaging to develop and assess appropriate outcome measurements in clinical trials. Acquired images are from the following modalities: optical coherence tomography (OCT) and angiography, fundus color photographs, fundus autofluorescence (FAF), and adaptive optics (AO). Accumulated datasets of longitudinal, multimodal images collected prospectively are used to answer both hypothesis-driven and hypothesis-generating research to add to the understanding of the anatomic changes occurring in retinal disease.
Led by Catherine (Cathy) Cukras MD, PhD, https://irp.nih.gov/pi/catherine-cukras the lab consists of clinical research personnel, ophthalmic photographers, psychophysicists and computational and image processing experts. The retina is uniquely accessible for non-invasive multimodal imaging in both 2D and 3D. With large amounts of longitudinally collected data, there is great ability to use image analysis for translatable insights into disease pathophysiology of retinal degenerations.
This position is located in the Unit on Clinical Investigation of Retinal Disease (UCIRD), Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications (DECA), National Eye Institute (NEI). The candidate will be someone with advanced skills in data science that can provide support in the development of our research program and staff projects. They will hold a PhD degree or equivalent and have significant post-doctoral experience.
They will have a proven record of publications that provide evidence of their expertise using computer programming in one or all the following languages: Python, MATLAB, C++, R, and/or Java. The prospective candidate will have experience in image analysis (registration, segmentation, and/or tracking) in medical images, and with experience in advanced modeling techniques, with priority given to those with the ophthalmological modalities listed above.
A major research focus of the UCIRD is the development of outcome measures in clinical trials of outer retinal disease, which include assessments with functional testing and multi-modal imaging. The UCIRD section conducts prospective clinical studies in normal and abnormal functioning of the retina, particularly those of retinal degenerations – including complex retina diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), drug toxicities, and monogenic retina disease. Acquired images are from the following modalities: optical coherence tomography (OCT) and angiography, fundus color photographs, fundus autofluorescence (FAF), and adaptive optics (AO). Multiple measures of retinal function are also acquired in parallel with retinal imaging. Accumulated datasets of longitudinal, multimodal images collected prospectively are used to answer both hypothesis-driven and hypothesis-generating research to add to the understanding of the anatomic changes occurring in retinal disease. The goal is to develop automated metrics that can be used as outcome measures in clinical trials of retinal diseases.
The candidate will operate as an independent researcher within the Unit on Clinical Investigation of Retinal Disease (UCIRD), consulting occasionally with other investigators within DECA and the NEI and established experts in governmental, academic, and industrial research sectors.
The scientist will primarily focus his/her efforts to develop automatic segmentation algorithms and machine learning approaches to detect/segment/quantify ocular anatomical/pathological structures seen on ophthalmic imaging systems (such as Optical coherence tomography, color fundus photographs, fundus autofluorescence, and adaptive optics images). Analyses will objectively detect and evaluate the biomarkers for onset and progression of the retinal diseases studied. Computational analyses will involve combinatorial assessment of disparate data types (i.e. patient demographics, risk factors, genetic information, different
As a scientist in the UCIRD, the scientist will work with data from ongoing and future clinical studies of Age related macular degeneration (AMD) (NCT03225131), hydroxychloroquine toxicity (NCT01145196) and retinitis pigmentosa (NCT03845218) which will be utilized for the development and testing of these algorithms. Some projects will be listed here but not limited to these: i) Develop registration algorithm that aligns multi-modal retinal images collected from longitudinal clinical studies to achieve accuracy and robustness required for analysis of structural changes in large-scale clinical data. The goal of aligning multimodal images is so that local changes can be investigated across the different acquisition types to synthesize and integrate the structural information. Alignment over time will enable the development of predictive models. (ii) The development of automated detection algorithms for OCT analyses. These will encompass both segmentation and semantic approaches. OCT features such as the ellipsoid zone (EZ) have shown to be key anatomic structures reflecting the integrity of photoreceptors. Given the monotonic loss of photoreceptors in retinal degenerations, the EZ reflectivity band has become an attractive structural measure that has gained FDA support. (iii) the development of predictive models to describe retinal function from structural measures as well as models for disease progression. Data collected across several different studies will be used to develop models that have applicability across diseases. This will be used to answer both hypothesis-driven and hypothesis-generating research to add to the understanding of the anatomic changes occurring in retinal disease. The scientist will use such inferences to communicate results in peer-reviewed manuscripts and as a guide in planning subsequent research projects.
The candidate will also apply knowledge and skills in research design to establish and maintain feasible, sustainable, standardized, valid and reliable systems of data and image collection, storage, monitoring, and management. Facilitates image extraction from clinical instruments in formats that can be utilized by custom algorithms. Uses scientific expertise to ensure the nature of data will allow characterization of key factors and processes implicated in health and disease of the visual system.
Forecasts to prevent avoidable problems in the post-implementation phase and troubleshoots to address unavoidable problems. Has authority to address and solve problems as they occur and to alert supervisor when deemed necessary.
Knowledge and optimization for CUDA and/or OpenCL workflows and applications is desirable. Submits request for changes in computing and other resources when state-of –the art advances in technology allow more effective and efficient fulfillment of research needs.