Our Scientists

UMass Eye Discretioners are engaged in innovative projects to better understand various blindness causing diseases.

  • Shlomit Schaal

    Shlomit Schaal, M.D., Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator & Professor

    Dr. Schaal is a clinician-scientist specializing in the cutting-edge medical and surgical treatment of complex vitreoretinal diseases. She served on the faculty of the University of Louisville as the Director of Retina, and the Director of Vitreo-Retinal Fellowship, before being appointed as the Chair of the ophthalmology department at the University of Massachusetts. Read more ›

  • Johanna Seddon

    Johanna Seddon, M.D, ScM

    Professor & Director of Retina & Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence

    Dr. Seddon pioneered the field of epidemiology in ophthalmology and initiated studies of genetics in macular degeneration. She previously founded and directed Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Genetics Services at Harvard and Tufts in Boston. Read more ›

  • Claudio Punzo

    Claudio Punzo, Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator & Associate Professor

    Dr. Punzo obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Basel Switzerland where he studied Drosophila eye development and evolution under the supervision of Dr. Walter Gehring at the Biozentrum. After completion of his Ph.D. he joined Dr. Constance Cepko at Harvard Medical School for a postdoctoral fellowship on retinal degeneration. In 2010, Dr. Punzo joined the Department of Ophthalmology at UMASS Medical School as a junior faculty. Read more ›

  • Hemant Khanna

    Hemant Khanna, Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator & Associate Professor

    Dr. Hemant Khanna, Ph.D. obtained his graduate degree from University of Delhi, India. He then joined University of Michigan as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ophthalmology, Kellogg Eye Center. After his postdoctoral training, he started his own laboratory in 2008 and moved to UMMS in 2010. Read more ›

  • Haijiang Lin

    Haijiang Lin, M.D., Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator & Assistant Professor

    Dr. Lin is an ophthalmologist fellowship trained in medical retina. Dr. Lin serves as a general ophthalmologist, who provides excellent eye care for patients with multi-specialty conditions, including eyeglasses prescription, cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular disease, and age-related macular degeneration. Read more ›

  • Juan Ding

    Juan Ding, O.D., Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator & Assistant Professor

    Dr. Ding is currently working on screening diabetic eye diseases at the Diabetes Center at the Ambulatory Care Center, as well as providing optometric services at the Eye Center including refraction, contact lenses, and comprehensive eye exams to adults and pediatric patients. She also facilitates the Ophthalmology Consult Service within the UMass Memorial Medical Center. Read more ›

  • Omar Helmy

    Omar Helmy, M.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow (Epic Specialist)

    Dr. Omar Helmy, M.D. obtained his degree from Ain Shams University Medical School, Cairo, Egypt. He Joined University of Louisville for a research fellowship in retina service, and finally joined as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts Medical school in the Ophthalmology Department laboratory.

  • Shun-Yun Cheng

    Shun-Yun Cheng

    Ph.D. student

    Shun-Yun, aka Michelle, is a first year Ph.D. student who just recently joined the Punzo Lab. Michelle is working on the Age-related Macular Degeneration project where she is trying to understand how metabolic changes in photoreceptors can cause AMD phenotypes. 

  • Wei Zhang

    Wei Zhang, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Associate

    Dr. Wei Zhang obtained his Ph.D. degree from Shandong University, China. He joined the Khanna Lab in November 2013. Dr. Zhangs's project involves use of multiple animal models to discover the mechanisms of CEP290 in retinal degeneration associated mutations and design appropriate therapeutic strategies in zebrafish and mice. Wei's hobbies are photography and sports.