Phoebe Lin Lab

Phoebe Lin, M.D., Ph.D. profile photo

Phoebe Lin, M.D., Ph.D., is a clinician-scientist trained in vitreoretinal surgery, ocular inflammatory disease, pharmacology, and ocular immunology. Her lab focuses on discovering novel pathogenic pathways in diseases of the eye that involve ocular inflammation, with the purpose of devising new therapies that might either improve or prevent vision loss. Specifically, her lab utilizes animal models of uveitis (an inflammatory condition of the middle lining of the eye) to address several pathways: leukocyte migration in autoimmune uveitis, immune regulation as a target for autoimmune uveitis, and the role of the mammalian commensal intestinal microbiota in intestinal immunity and systemic immunity affecting the development and mitigation of ocular inflammation. Dr. Lin’s lab is also investigating the impact of an intestinal dysbiosis that occurs in age-related macular degeneration, a disease that is caused by disruptions in innate immunity and fatty acid metabolism. 

Dr. Lin received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Washington University, St. Louis, where she graduated summa cum laude and received the Spector award for her undergraduate honors thesis. She received a medical degree and doctorate of philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she received an American Heart Association pre-doctoral fellowship, and then graduated with honors, alpha-omega-alpha. Dr. Lin went on to complete an ophthalmology residency at the University of California, San Francisco in 2010, and a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery and diseases at Duke University in 2012, during which she received the prestigious Heed and Michel’s fellowships. Subsequently, she completed a fellowship in uveitis and ocular inflammation during her first year on faculty as Assistant Professor in the Retina and Uveitis divisions at the Casey Eye Institute in 2013.

One of the lab’s recent scientific articles in the Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences journal received 10,000 views since publication, and scored in the top 25% of all research outputs. The Lin lab work has been presented at the international, national, and regional levels, including the International Society of Eye Research meeting in Tokyo, the International Society of Uveitis meeting in Dublin, the Retina Society meeting in Paris, and the International Ocular Inflammation Society meeting in Switzerland. Dr. Lin was also invited as the Steven Kramer named lecturer for the Cordes Society meeting in San Francisco, and as visiting professor at California Pacific Medical Center. In 2012, Dr. Lin received a K08 grant to study the relationship between the intestinal microbiota and autoimmune uveitis. She also received a competitive Career Development Award from the Research to Prevent Blindness and a Collins Medical Trust grant to study how targeting the microbiota modulates the immune system and alters the severity of uveitis. Furthermore, Dr. Lin’s group has since initiated work with help from Macular Degeneration Center funds to investigate changes in the intestinal microbiota in advanced age-related macular degeneration that are potentially involved in the pathogenesis of this common, blinding condition. Clinically, her lab has an interest in using ophthalmic imaging biomarkers to predict disease progression or response to treatment in uveitis and other retinal diseases. Dr. Lin has individually mentored 42 residents, fellows, post-docs, medical students, high school students, college students, and international fellows, including a PhD candidate successful in obtaining his doctorate at the Assiut University in Egypt. She is always open to meeting and mentoring hard-working, enthusiastic individuals interested in the lab’s research. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, books, and other medical or scientific articles.

Selected projects

Leukocyte trafficking in uveitis

​​​​​​We use a Kaede transgenic mouse to identify key cells important in the pathogenesis of uveitis by tracking their migration between the intestinal tract, the extraintestinal lymphoid tissues, and the eyes.

Visual of research on the connection between the microbiome and the eye.

Intestinal dysbiosis in advanced age-related macular degeneration

​​​​​​We have found that a subclinical intestinal dysbiosis occurs in age-related macular degeneration patients with advanced disease, and that these alterations are associated with metabolic pathways potentially involved in pathogenesis of AMD.

Targeting immune regulation to treat autoimmune uveitis

​​​​​​We use therapies known to upregulate regulatory T cells (that involve targeting the intestinal microbiota) to treat uveitis in animal models.

Visual of research with regulatory T cells to treat uveitis.

Targeting the intestinal microbiome to understand and treat uveitis

​​​​​​We have characterized intestinal microbial changes associated with severity of uveitis and tested different microbial targets to ameliorate autoimmune uveitis.

Image of research conducted to study the microbiome in the gut

Testing novel therapeutics in ocular inflammation

​​​​​​We have utilized a rabbit model of ocular inflammation to test novel drug delivery devices and suspensions targeting various pathways involved in inflammation, including: vascular endothelial growth factor, leukocyte homing receptors, and caveolins.

Laboratory members

Dr. Yukiko K. Nakamura is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Phoebe Lin. She graduated phi kappa phi and obtained her doctorate degree in Environmental Science and Health at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her research interests include how altering the intestinal microbiota with either oral antibiotics, short chain fatty acids, and diets high in fiber, can potentially ameliorate uveitis. Her hobbies include walking, (window) shopping, and enjoying Portland’s many great restaurants.

​​​​​​Christina Metea works in the laboratory of Dr. Phoebe Lin. She graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Her research expertise includes microscopy, histology, performing immune assays and flow cytometry. Christina’s hobbies include hiking with her dog and listening to live jazz.

Selected publications

a.    Lin P, Suhler EB, Rosenbaum JT, “The Future of Uveitis Treatment,” Ophthalmology, 2014 Jan;121(1):365-76
b.    Kopplin LJ, Shifera AS, Suhler EB, Lin P, “Biological response modifiers in the treatment of noninfectious uveitis,” Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2015 Spring;55(2):19-36
c.    Lin P, “Targeting interleukin-6 for noninfectious uveitis,” Curr Ophthalmol Rep, 2015 Sep;3(3):170-183.
d.    Jaffe GJ, Lin P, Keenan RT, Ashton P, Skalak C, Stinnett SS, “Injectable fluocinolone acetonide long-acting implant for noninfectious intermediate uveitis, posterior uveitis, and panuveitis: two-year results,” Ophthalmology. 2016 Jul 12
e.    Lin P, “The role of the intestinal microbiome in ocular inflammatory disease,” Curr Opin Ophthalmol 2018 Mar 13.
f.    Nakamura YK, Metea C, Karstens L, Asquith M, Gruner H, Moscibrocki C, Lee I, Brislawn CJ, Jansson JK, Rosenbaum JT, Lin P, “Gut microbial alterations associated with protection from autoimmune uveitis,” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Jul1;57(8):3747-58
g.    Nakamura YK, Janowitz C, Metea C, Asquith M, Karstens L, Rosenbaum JT, Lin P, “Short chain fatty acids ameliorate immune-mediated uveitis partially by altering migration of lymphocytes from the intestine,” Sci Rep 2017 Sep 18;7(1):111745
h.    Lin P, Bach M, Asquith M et al, “HLA-B27 and human β2-microglobulin affect the gut microbiota of transgenic rats,” PLoS one, 2014 Aug 20;9(8): e105684
i.    Lin P, “Importance of the intestinal microbiota in ocular inflammatory diseases: a review” Clin Exp Ophthalmol 2019 Apr;47(3): 418-422
j.    Janowitz C, Nakamura YK, Metea C, Gligro A, Yu W, Karsten L, Rosenbaum JT, Asquit M, Lin P, “Disruption of intestinal homeostasis and intestinal microbiota during experimental autoimmune uveitis,” Invest ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2019 Jan 2;60(1):420-429

For a full list of publications, visit Google Scholar.