Vision Research Center

Leadership & Faculty


Photo of Nelson R. Sabates, M.D.
Nelson R. Sabates, M.D.
Chairman & Professor – Department of Ophthalmology President of the Vision Research Foundation, President and CEO – Sabates Eye Centers, P.C.Department of Ophthalmology

Dr. Nelson Sabates received his medical training at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine. After an internship at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, he completed his ophthalmology residency at the Dean McGee Eye Institute, University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He received his subspecialty training in medical and surgical diseases of the retina and vitreous fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, and a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo of Peter Koulen, Ph.D.
Peter Koulen, Ph.D.
Departments of Ophthalmology & Basic Medical Science Work Phone: (816) 404-1824

Professor and Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research
Director of Basic Research, Vision Research Center
Department of Ophthalmology

Professor
Department of Basic Medical Science

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Research Interest

Dr. Koulen is a Professor of Ophthalmology and Basic Medical Science and the Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research at the UMKC School of Medicine. He trained at the Max-Planck-Institute for Brain Research, Yale University and the Marine Biological Laboratory. His research focuses on basic research on and therapy development for chronic diseases of the eye and brain. He is an internationally recognized expert in biophysics, biochemistry and physiology of nerve cells and his research has been funded continually since 2002 by national and international foundations and agencies including the NIH’s National Eye Institute, National Institute on Aging, National Cancer Institute, National Center for Research Resources, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the U.S. DOD among others. As principal or co-investigator for over $20 million in extramural grant funding for research studies, Dr. Koulen’s research program has fundamental relevance to basic science, translational research and therapy development as evidenced by over 100 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals, and 6 book chapters. Dr. Koulen has over 20 years of experience in the fields of neuroscience and eye research, drug development, translational research, biological sciences, biostatistics, and routinely interprets complex data sets with distinct public health significance. Dr. Koulen serves as reviewer for more than 50 professional scientific journals, serves on over 15 editorial boards and is editor in chief of two scientific journals. He is a review panel member for several national and international funding agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense and other national and international government agencies and research foundations. The University of Missouri – Kansas City Board of Trustees recognized Dr. Koulen with the N.T. Veatch Award for Distinguished Research and Creativity in 2013. Through this Faculty Award, UMKC and the UMKC Trustees are recognizing the very best faculties, who have distinguished themselves through scholarship and creativity.

Vision research

Degeneration or acute damage of nerve cells in the retina is a major cause of visual loss and blindness in the United States and worldwide. As diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy affect significant and increasing portions of the U.S. population, including minorities affected by disparities in health care delivery, determining causes, mechanisms of action and subsequently potential treatment strategies will contribute to improving health care, health and performance requiring visual tasks.

The Vision Research Center was founded as and is a well-established collaboration of several UMKC schools and Kansas City Medical Centers and thus offers an unprecedented interdisciplinary synergy with a unified goal: to better diagnose, prevent, and treat eye disease and vision disorders through translational research in order to make a difference in the lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. To this end, the center conducts federally and industry funded basic, translational and clinical research to develop new medical therapies and offers patient care in all subspecialties of ophthalmology. The center’s nationally recognized excellence in research, patient care and medical education contribute to UMKC’s strengths in the life sciences. Objectives of the Vision Research Center are to:

  • Provide a direct avenue for basic and translational research in eye and related diseases,
  • Transfer basic science findings seamlessly into practical use with patients through translational research,
  • Develop new therapy approaches urgently needed by physicians in the US and worldwide,
  • Provide educational excellence,
  • Ensure patients receive the most advanced medical treatments available,
  • Become a national center of excellence for eye research.
Publications:

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Vision Research Center at UMKC Faculty

Chairman
Nelson R. Sabates, MD

Vice-Chairman Clinical Services
David B. Lyon, MD

Director of Basic Research
Peter Koulen, PhD,
Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair

Residency Program
Billi S. Wallace, MD, Program Director
Katie J. Macaluso, MD, Associate Program Director

Director of Clinics
Billi S. Wallace, MD

Comprehensive Ophthalmology
Komal K. Desai, MD
Mahendra K. Rupani, MD
Jospeh N. Simone, MD
Timothy A. Walline, MD

Cornea
Katie J. Macaluso, MD

Glaucoma
Rohit Krishna, MD
Kevin P. Pikey, DO

Neuro-Ophthalmology
Billi S. Wallace, MD
Sean Gratton, MD

Ocular Oncology
Komal K. Desai, MD

Ocular Pathology
Mahendra K. Rupani, MD

Oculoplastics & Orbital Surgery
David B. Lyon, MD
Matthew C. Sniegowski, MD

Pediatric Ophthalmology
Scott E. Olitsky, MD, Director
Michelle Ariss, MD
Denise Hug, MD
Scott Atkinson, MD
Laura S. Plummer, MD
Erin Stahl, MD
Justin Marsh, MD
Timothy Hug, OD

Refractive Surgery
Katie Macaluso, MD
Timothy A. Walline, MD

Retina & Vitreous
Felix N. Sabates, MD
Nelson R. Sabates, MD
Abraham K. Poulose, MD
Michael A. Cassell, MD
Nancy Kunjukunju, MD

Contact Lens & Low Vision
Ramona Baumfalk, OD
Paul A. Kusy, OD

Vision Research Center
Nelson R. Sabates, MD, Director
Peter Koulen, PhD, Director of Basic Research, Endowed Chair
Simon H. Friedman, PhD
William G. Gutheil, PhD
Thomas P. Johnston, PhD
Chi H. Lee, PhD
Ashim K. Mitra, PhD
Mridul Mukherji, D Phil
Dhananjay Pal, PhD
Ting Xie, PhD

Board Members
President
Nelson R. Sabates, M.D. Secretary
Peter Long Treasurer
Jeff Rosen
Members
Don Alexander
Charles Benson
David Caffrey
Jim Dawson
Marshall H. Dean, III
Dan Dickinson
David Hall
Ronald D. Jury
Steven Kanter
David Lyon, M.D.
Russell Melchert, Ph.D.
Larry Piebenga, M.D.
Felix N. Sabates, M.D.