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Shay-Whey M. Koh

Shay-Whey M. Koh Ph.D.

Academic Title: Associate Professor
Primary Appointment: Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Location: 10 S. Pine Street, MSTF 500C
Phone: (410) 706-0775

Personal History:

Dr. Shay-Whey Margaret Koh is a basic scientist in the field of trophic factors. Her focus has been on the beneficial effects of trophic factors on the prevention of cell death and inflammation in injured-corneal endothelium.

She received her Ph. D. in biochemistry in 1978 from the Ohio State University. This was followed by postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Iowa and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as a staff fellowship and a senior staff fellowship at the NIH.

She has been the principal investigator of numerous NIH-funded projects. As associate professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Koh teaches cell biology of ocular tissues and the principles of photocoagulation applied to these tissues. She also participates in the teaching of the medical students through her secondary appointment in the Department of Physiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Research Interests:

Her current focus has been on the beneficial effects of VIP and CNTF on the prevention of corneal endothelial (CE) cell death in corneas stored for transplantation and on diminishing the inflammatory potential of CE cells after transplantation. While VIP is a well-known suppressor of immune cell-mediated inflammation, contributing to the immune-privileged environment of the anterior chamber, in which the CE cell is a bystander (resident), she has found that VIP can also reduce the inflammatory potential of the bystander cell by switching the death mode of injured CE cells from necrosis, which causes inflammation, to apoptosis. She has also found that CNTF increases the level of cell-cell adhesion molecule connexin-43, a molecule important for the maintenance of corneal endothelium integrity, in CE cells with an intact receptor for CNTF, whose loss in aged CE cells can be restored by a recombinant CNTF receptor. At the time when CNTF for human retinal degeneration in a phase I clinical trial has been concluded by other investigators, her study implied that inclusion of CNTF receptor may further the effectiveness of CNTF therapy.


  1. Koh, S-W. M. (2000) VIP enhances the differentiation of retinal pigment epithelium in culture from cAMP and pp60 c-src to melanogenesis and development of fluid transport capacity. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research. vol 19; pp.669-688, Elsevier Science, Oxford, England
  2. Koh, S-W. M., and Waschek, J.A. (2000) Corneal endothelial cell survival in cornea organ cultures under acute oxidative stress: effect of VIP. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 41:4085-4092.
  3. Koh, S.-W. M., and Yue, B.Y.J.T. (2002) VIP stimulation of cAMP production in corneal endothelial cells in tissue and organ cultures. Cornea. 21:270-274
  4. Koh, S-W. M. (2002) Ciliary neurotrophic factor released by corneal endothelium surviving oxidative stress ex vivo. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 43:2887-2896.
  5. Koh, S-W. M., Coll, T.J., Rose, L., Matsumoto, Y. and Higginbotham, E.J. (2004) Antiglaucoma eye drop pulses-increased interleukin-6 secretion by Tenon's capsule fibroblast cultures. J. Glaucoma 13:200-209.
  6. Koh, S-W. M. Rutzen, A.R., Coll, T.J., Hemady, R.K. and Higginbotham, E.J. (2005) VIP-immunoreacty in human aqueous humor. Curr Eye Res. 30:189-194.