About James J Peterson
I have pursued questions at the interface of basic science, applied technology, and medicine. In 1999, I earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, in the field of cancer therapy studying the fate and clearance of radio-labeled therapeutic bioconjugates from the circulation. As the tools of genetics and molecular biology exploded, I was privileged to work with Dr. Clay Smith at the University of Florida Department of Ophthalmology using cloned constructs (e.g. fluorescent fusion proteins) to address persistent limitations of immunohistochemistry. These and other molecular-genetic techniques were applied to controversies concerning the light driven translocation of the visual signal transduction protein, arrestin, in photoreceptors. At the biology department at Kansas State University, Larry Takemoto and I published reports in another part of the eye, answering questions of lens crystallin protein interactions using novel informatics (MS3D), mass spectrometry, and surface plasmon resonance. Again at the University of Florida Dept. of Ophthalmology, in partnership with Dr. William Hauswirth and Genzyme, Inc. I utilized a mouse model of retinal angiogenesis, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), to study the application of viral therapeutics to reduce devastating ocular neovascularization that occurs in eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). With Dr. Lonnie Ingram, extensive knowledge of bio-analytical instrumentation was applied to help devise a practical, large scale conversion of plant cell-based carbohydrates into fuels and chemicals. While these are fairly complex and very useful technical skills, I needed also to develop a more humanistic, empathetic approach to helping people. From 2011-2013, I pursued a nursing degree from Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. I am a licensed, registered nurse. During this training I assisted Dr. Shannon Boye, Ph.D., and Dr. Christine Kay, M.D., also at UF Ophthalmology, in their pursuit of clinically applicable viral ocular therapeutics for the treatment of tragic sight-stealing genetic diseases (e.g. Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA) and Usher’s disease). My commitment to apply both basic and clinically relevant data to the lives of real people finds expression in many ways in the ocular gene therapy environment at the Boye lab; As lab manager, these duties have included training new personnel in bio-analytical techniques, ordering affordable, quality supplies, and negotiating with vendors to procure reliable instrumentation. On the bench, I have refined a simplified and economical protocol for producing AAV-based therapeutic vectors for the Boye lab. I continue to perform immuno-histochemical and confocal microscopy. Lastly, I can often be found keeping my mind open, reading about new techniques from the literature that may assist us in our pursuit of practical cures for blindness.