The Valdez Lab takes a four-pronged approach to studying diabetic retinopathy, the eye disease in diabetes:
The Valdez Lab utilizes diabetic mouse models to study pericyte and endothelial cell (EC) interactions in the retinal microvasculature. Through techniques such as whole retinal flat mounts, we can use molecular markers and immunofluorescence to investigate the microvasculature of the mouse retina. Using elastase (formerly trypsin) digests, we are able to isolate the microvasculature of the retina and detect a number of microangiopathies found in diabetic retinopathy, the eye disease in diabetes.
Through computational projects, the Valdez Lab is committed to improving and generating new tools to automate microvascular image analysis. Our lab aims to develop new accessible tools for the diabetic retinopathy community to advance their research. Using a combination of available software and creation of our own in house developed algorithms, we are able to provide customizable, easy to use, high throughput automated analysis of retinal microvasculature images.
Our lab recognizes the need to communicate our scientific findings to the public. More specifically, the Valdez Lab aims to communicate with diabetic audiences, who may be visually impaired or blind. To address this, we are working to create more accessible conversations around our scientific findings for all audiences. To better understand the needs of the diabetic community, we are launching a human subjects research project.
Our lab aims to create STEM education and outreach opportunities for the K-12 community in Tahlequah. We are actively seeking opportunities to share about our research, diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, the eye, chemistry, and STEM broadly. The Valdez Lab is developing a curriculum including workshops and demonstrations to have hands on STEM experiences with Tahlequah students. If you are interested in having our lab come talk to your class or school, please reach out to us!