David R. Hyde
Rev. Howard J. Kenna, C.S.C., Memorial Director of the Zebrafish Research Center
In one of the nation’s largest zebrafish research facilities, David Hyde is working to uncover the processes by which vision might be restored in humans suffering from macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other degenerative ailments. The centerpiece of his research is the eye of the zebrafish, a species with the remarkable ability to spontaneously regenerate damaged tissues from adult stem cells.
With multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Center for Zebrafish Research is developing state-of-the-art approaches to study and utilize the zebrafish in medical research—including the use of adult stem cells in the regeneration of retinal neurons. This work holds promise not just for vision disorders, but also for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and spinal cord injuries.
Dr. Hyde is exploring how zebrafish spontaneously regenerate lost or damaged neurons from resident adult stem cells in the retina and brain. Because the human body also contains adult stem cells, discovering this regeneration mechanism will lead to adult stem cell therapies to replace neurons that are lost or damaged in a variety of human diseases, such as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, Parkinson disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Hyde is a regular member of the NIH Center for Scientific Review Biology and Diseases of the Posterior Eye Study Section for the term 2009 to 2013, a body that reviews and makes recommendations on grant applications and oversees the status of research in this area. He also teaches the rigorous and popular Genetics course, which is taken by nearly all biology and biochemistry majors.
The four Kenna Professorships were created by the University to memorialize Father Howard Kenna (’26), a Fellow and Trustee of Notre Dame. In 1955, he was appointed president of the University of Portland, a position he held until becoming the provincial superior of the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1962.