Kate E. Keller, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine
  • Graduate Faculty, Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, School of Medicine


Academic Background: In 1994, Kate Keller earned a BSc in Cell Biology from University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. She then attended the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where she received a PhD in Biochemistry in 1998. Having specialized in studies of molecules of the extracellular matrix, she continued her research interests as a post-doctoral fellow at the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Portland, OR. She joined the Casey Eye Institute in 2003 and was promoted to research assistant professor in 2008.

Summary of current research: Primary open-angle glaucoma is frequently associated with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), which is due to increased resistance to aqueous humor flow through a filter-like tissue in the front of the eye called the trabecular meshwork (TM). In our lab, we are interested in identifying the extracellular matrix components of the aqueous outflow resistance and how the molecular components differ between normal and glaucomatous TM. Identification of the molecules that initiate extracelluar matrix remodeling, their proteolytic targets and the modes and sites of action should allow us to understand how IOP is adjusted. Our long-term goal is to investigate ways we can target extracellular matrix components to enable greater aqueous humor flow through the TM in order for us to design new therapeutic interventions to alleviate elevated IOP in glaucoma patients.

An additional project in our laboratory is to investigate how TM cells communicate. Diffusion-based signaling is challenging in the aqueous environment of the anterior eye because secreted signals are diluted and continually washed out to Schlemm's canal. Our laboratory has found that TM cells are connected by tunneling nanotubes (TNTs), which provide a direct method by which cellular cargoes can be directly transported from one cell to another via tubules. Ongoing studies are aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanisms of TNT formation, what signals are transported and whether  glaucoma TNTs are different from normal TNTs.

Education and training

    • B.S., 1994, University of Glasgow
    • Ph.D., 1998, University of Edinburgh

Memberships and associations:

  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology: 2003 - Present
  • International Society for Eye Research: 2013-present



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