Janis Eells, Ph.D.


[Image] Janis Eells

Enderis Hall, Room 477
Phone: (414) 229-5405
Fax: (414) 229-2619


Biomedical Sciences


  • Ph.D., Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Iowa, 1981
  • M.S., Pharmacology/Microbiology, Idaho State University, 1976
  • B.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 1973

Speaker Topics

  • Retinal Degenerative Diseases (Macular Degeneration)
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Pharmacology, Molecular Toxicology

Interests & Expertise

Dr. Eells’s research focuses on two main areas:

The Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Retinal Degeneration and Disease: Mitochondria play a key role in cellular energy metabolism and intracellular signaling processes. These organelles are involved in many complex signaling cascades regulating both cell survival and cell death. Importantly, mitochondrial dysfunction and the resulting oxidative stress are central in the pathogenesis of aging and degenerative diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. Research in my laboratory is directed at understanding the mitochondrial signaling pathways that regulate the processes of cellular aging and degeneration with the longterm goal of learning how to protect cells and tissues against these degenerative processes.

Photobiomodulation in Retinal Degeneration and Disease: Evidence is growing that exposure of cells to low-energy photon irradiation in the near-infrared (NIR) range of the spectrum, collectively termed photobiomodulation (PBM), can restore the function of damaged mitochondria, upregulate the production of cytoprotective factors and prevent apoptotic cell death. Photobiomodulation has been applied clinically in the treatment of soft tissue injuries and acceleration of wound healing for more than 40 years. Photobiomodulation studies in our laboratory have demonstrated improved clinical outcome, increased production of cytoprotective factors and improved cell survival in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, diabetes mellitus and retinal degeneration. Investigations into the mechanisms of photobiomodulation have shown that NIR photons are absorbed by the mitochondrial photoacceptor molecule, cytochrome c oxidase triggering intracellular signaling pathways that culminate in improved mitochondrial energy metabolism, increased cytoprotective factor production and cell survival. Research in my laboratory employs electrophysiological, neuroimaging, histochemical and molecular methodologies.

Recent Publications

Quirk, B. J., DeSmet, K. D., Henry, M., Buchmann, E., Wong-Riley, M., Eells, J. T., & Whelan, H. T. (2012). Therapeutic effect of near infrared (NIR) light on Parkinson’s disease models. Frontiers in Bioscience, 4E, 818-823.

Maleki, S., Gopalakrishnan, S., Ghanian, Z., Spehr, R., Schmitt, H., Eells, J. T., & Ranji, M. (2012). Optical imaging of mitochondrial redox state in a rodent model of retinitis pigmentosa. Journal of Biomedical Optics, 18, 1-8.

Wasson, C. J., Zourelias, J. L., Aardsma, N. A., Eells, J. T., Ganger, M. T., Schober, J. M., & Skwor, T. A. (2012). Inhibitory effects of 405 nm irradiation on Chlamydiatrachomatis growth and characterization of the ensuing inflammatory response in HeLa cells. BMC Microbiology, August 15, [Epub ahead of print].

Muili, K. A., Gopalakrishnanm, S., Meyer, S. L., Eells, J. T., & Lyons, J. (2012). Amelioration of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis in C57BL/6 Mice by Photobiomodulation Induced by 670 nm Light, PLoS ONE, 7(1), e30655.

Albarracin, R., Eells, J. T., & Valter, K. (2011). Photobiomodulation protects the retina from light-induced photoreceptor degeneration. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 52, 3582-3592.

González-Quevedo, A., Santiesteban Freixas, R., Eells, J. T., & Lima, L. (2010). Cuban Epidemic Optic Neuropathy: An Appraisal of the Pathophysiological Mechanisms. In A. Holmgren, & G. Borg (Eds.), Handbook of Disease Outbreaks: Prevention, Detection and Control (pp. 43-73). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Natoli, R., Zhu, Y., Valter, K., Bisti, S., Eells, J. T., & Stone, J. (2010). Gene and noncoding RNA regulation underlying photoreceptor protection: microarray study of dietary antioxidant saffron and photobiomodulation in rat retina. Molecular Vision, 16, 1801-1822.

Lim, J., Ali, M., Sanders, R. A., Snyder, A. C., Eells, J. T., Henshel, D. S., & Watkins, J. B. (2009). Effects of Low Level Light Therapy on Hepatic Antioxidant Defense Capabilities of Acute and Chronic Diabetic Rats. Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology, 23, 1-8.

Liang, H. L., Whelan, H. T., Eells, J. T., & Wong-Riley, M. T. (2008). Near-Infrared Light Via Light-Emitting Diode Treatment is Therapeutic Against Rotenone- and 1-Methyl-4-Phenylpyridinium Ion-Induced Neurotoxicity. Neuroscience, 153, 963-974.

Riess, M. L., Camara, A. K., Heinen, A., Eells, J. T., Henry, M. M., & Stowe, D. F. (2008). KATP Channel Openers have Opposite Effects on Mitochondrial Respiration Under Different Energetic Conditions. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 51, 483-491.

Lim, J., Sanders, R. A., Yeager, R. L., Millsap, D. S., Watkins, J. B., Eells, J. T., & Henshel, D. S. (2008). Attenuation of TCDD-Induced Oxidative Stress by 670 nm Photobiomodulation in Developmental Chicken Kidney. Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology, 22, 230-239.

Ying, R., Liang, H. L., Whelan, H. T., Eells, J. T., & Wong-Riley, M. T. (2008). Pretreatment with Near-Infrared Light Via Light-Emitting Diode Provides Added Benefit Against Rotenone and MPP+ Induced Neurotoxicity. Brain Research, 1243, 167-173.

Whelan, H., DeSmet, K. D., Buchman, E. M., Henry, M., Wong-Riley, M. T., Eells, J. T., & VerHoeve, J. (2008). Harnessing the Cell’s Own Ability to Repair and Prevent Neurodegenerative Disease. SPIE, 10117, 1-4.

DeSmet, K. D., Buchman, E., Henry, M., Wong-Riley, M. T., Eells, J. T., VerHoeve, J., & Whelan, H. (2008). Near-Infrared Light as a Possible Treatment Option for Parkinson’s Disease and Laser Eye Injury. SPIE, 7165.

Eells, J. T., DeSmet, K. D., Kirk, D. K., Wong-Riley, M., Whelan, H. T., VerHoeve, J., Nork, T. M., Stone, J. & Valter K. (2008). Photobiomodulation for the Treatment of Retinal Injury and Retinal Degenerative Diseases. In D. Tata & R. W. Waynant (Eds.), Light Activated Tissue Regeneration and Therapy (pp. 39-51). Springer Publishing, New York.