Nawajes A. Mandal, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology

Faculty Member, Oklahoma Center for Neuroscience

Special Interests

  • Sphingolipid metabolism in the retina
  • Understanding the mechanism of inherited and light-induced retinal degeneration
  • Developing augmentative therapy for AMD using various anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory compounds.


  • PhD in Biochemistry, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India.
  • Postdoctoral Training, Molecular genetics of inherited retinal/macular degeneration, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Research Summary

The major area of my current research focuses on the role of ceramides and its bioactive metabolites in retinal degenerations, inflammation and neovascularization. Inflammation and apoptosis are integrally related to each other and are the principal pathological mechanisms for several major blinding retinal diseases including age-related macular degenerations (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. Determining the role of ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) as cellular second messengers in retinal inflammation and cell death will open up a new area of retinal degeneration research and identify potential targets for therapy.

The other area that I pursue is testing efficacy of various anti-oxidative-, anti-inflammatory-compounds, and ceramide metabolic inhibitors to protect retinal degenerations and angiogenesis in animal models. We have successfully tested phenyl n-tret-butyl nitrone (PBN), a free radical spin trap that protects retinal photoreceptors from light-induced damage by inhibiting RPE65 enzyme activity. We also tested natural anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin, which can protect retinal cells by down-regulating major inflammatory signals and up-regulating anti-oxidative protection mechanism. PBN can potentially be developed as a therapy for Stragardt’s and dry AMD to slow-down the visual cycle and inhibit the accumulation of toxic intermediates in the RPE that lead to disease development. Curcumin may have potential use in augmentative therapy for AMD and other retinopathies in which photoreceptor cells die over a period of time due to accumulative oxidative stress and inflammation.

Recent Publications

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Funding Sources

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