Adaptive optics, originally designed to view stars and planets, now allows vision researchers at the Eye Institute to image the smallest cells in the retina (rods and cones) that make vision possible. The Eye Institute is one of only a small handful of centers in the world with this equipment. The recent recruitment of Dr. Alfredo Dubra (Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology) to the Eye Institute brings even more imaging expertise to our Advanced Ocular Imaging Program. Dr. Dubra’s work will expand upon existing research by using this technology to examine diseases that impact the optic nerve such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Dubra and Dr. Joseph Carroll (Associate Professor of Ophthalmology) both use adaptive optics for early detection, monitoring and understanding of eye disease. They have collaborated for a number of years in creating the systems and software that make using this technology possible. Now located at the same institution, their aim is to make the Eye Institute into a world-wide center for excellence in adaptive optics. This year they made a huge step towards realizing that goal when they published a paper showing the first images ever taken of the rod photoreceptors, a feat previously deemed impossible.
Anyone who meets Dr. Alfredo Dubra realizes quickly his passion and excitement for vision science. In a casual interview he explained a bit about himself, his research, and why he is excited to be a part of the faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin Eye Institute.
Dr. Dubra was born with strabismus (i.e. crossed eyes) and had multiple operations on each eye before the age of three. He also wore an eye patch between 6 months and 10 years of age to try to correct his amblyopia (i.e. lazy eye). Because of this, Dr. Dubra has been wearing glasses since he was only a year old and naturally developed a curiosity about vision disorders at an early age.
“At around 7 or 8 years of age I realized that my ophthalmologist was wearing glasses
himself. I figured out that if he could not “fix/cure” himself, he was not able to “fix/cure” me either, so I started crying profusely (I was not very tough when I was little). My dad comforted me by saying that sometimes people study things related to their own problems and he shared with me that my grandfather, a cardiologist, had to stop practicing competitive rowing because of heart problems, so I took that to heart and here I am.”
Dr. Dubra received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Universidad de la Republica in his native country of Uruguay, his PhD from the Imperial College of London, and spent time as a post-doctoral fellow and faculty member at the University of Rochester before joining the faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin. In addition to presenting at conferences across the United States, Dr. Dubra has also showcased his work at professional meetings in the United Kingdom, China, Spain, Uruguay, Canada, Ireland, Russia, Sweden, and Germany.
Having trained and traveled all over the world, the question he naturally gets asked is, “What made you choose the Medical College of Wisconsin?”
For Dr. Dubra, the answer is pretty straight forward, “it’s the atmosphere.” He explained that “having both medical doctors and researchers in the same building is a good first step, but the Eye Institute takes it one step further. The partnership that exists here between doctors who see patients and researchers like myself is very strong and is the perfect model for transitioning new technology, treatments, and cures directly to patients that need them.”
To see videos of Drs. Dubra and Carroll discussing adaptive optics go to: