Martha D. Neuringer

Martha Neuringer and her colleagues investigate nutritional and genetic factors in retinal disease, and the effects of aging and steroid hormones on sensory and cognitive function.

Neuringer's earlier work on visual development established the importance for infant nutrition of two nutrients, taurine and omega-3 fatty acids, and led to the addition of these substances to infant formulas worldwide. Current work focuses on aging, including age-related diseases of the eye and brain.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly. The macula is the critical region of the retina responsible for high acuity central vision, including the ability to read and recognize faces. The macula is present only in the eyes of humans and higher primates, and monkeys develop the same types of age-related macular changes seen in older people. The exceptional resource of the Primate Center's large macaque colony has allowed the lab to establish a nonhuman primate model of macular degeneration and to investigate both environmental and genetic risk factors. They are examining the role of dietary factors, including omega-3 fatty acids and lutein, which appear to be protective. They also have identified two genes that are involved in macular disease in monkeys as well as in humans. Together with a collaborative team from the Casey Eye Institute, they are testing several promising new treatments for this crippling disease, including gene therapy and stem cell therapy.

The second major focus of the lab is age-related changes in memory, attention, sensory and motor abilities and sleep cycles. Neuringer and her colleagues are testing whether different types of hormone replacement therapy may prevent or retard losses in these functions during aging.




Martha Neuringer, PhD, is a Professor in the Division of Neuroscience at ONPRC, and a Research Associate Professor in Opthamology and Clinical Nutrition at OHSU. Dr. Neuringer reciived her PhD from Harvard University in Physiological Psychology in 1971. See came to ONPRC to complete her postodoctoral work and has been associated with the Center ever since.




Francis PJ, Appukuttan B, Simmons E, Landauer N, Stoddard J, Hamon S, Ott J, Ferguson B, Klein M, Stout JT, and Neuringer M. (2008) Rhesus monkeys and humans share common susceptibility genes for age-related macular disease. Hum Mol Genet 17:2673-2780. 

Gouras P, Ivert L, Landauer N, Mattison JA, Ingram DK, and Neuringer M. (2008) Drusenoid maculopathy in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta): Effects of age and gender. Graefe's Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol, 246:1395-1402. 

Gouras P, Ivert L, Mattison JA, Ingram DK, and Neuringer M. (2008) Drusenoid maculopathy in rhesus monkeys: Autofluorescence, lipofuscin and drusen pathogenesis. Graefe's Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol, 246:1403-1411.

Francis PJ, Wang S, Zhang Y, Brown A, Hwang T, MacFarland T, Jeffrey BJ, Lu B, Wright L, Appukuttan B, Wilson DJ, Stout JT, Neuringer M, Gamm DM, Lund R.  (2009) Subretinal transplantation of forebrain progenitor cells in non-human primates: Survival and intact retinal function.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 50:3425-3431.

Jeffrey BG, Neuringer M. (2009) Age-related decline in rod phototransduction sensitivity in rhesus monkeys fed an n-3 fatty acid-deficient diet.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 50:4360-4367.

Barker FM, Snodderly DM, Johnson EJ, Schalch W, Koepcke W, Gerss J, Neuringer M.  2011) Nutritional manipulation of primate retinas. V: Effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on retinal sensitivity to blue light-induced damage. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 52(7):3934-3942


See a full listing of Dr. Neuringer's publications.