John D. Ash, Ph.D.

Academic TitleDr. Ash

Francis M. Bullard Eminent Scholar Chair in Ophthalmic Sciences
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology

Contact Information

(352) 273-8328 (phone)
(352) 273-7402 (fax)





Dr Ash received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology in 1986 from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Dr. Ash earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The Ohio State University 1994.  Dr. Ash has been engaged in Vision Research since 1994 when he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship in Ocular Cell Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Overbeek at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas.

Research area

Dr. Ash’s research is focused on both understanding the cause of blindness due to retinal degeneration and developing therapies to prevent loss of sight.  His research is relevant to inherited retinal degenerations such as retinitis pigmentosa, cone-rod dystrophies, LCA, or age related macular degeneration. His most recent studies have shown the important contribution of endogenously expressed cytokines such as leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF).  His work has shown that these cytokines are expressed under conditions of stress, and that the increased LIF is important to prevent or delay photoreceptor or RPE cell death under chronic stress conditions, including inherited mutations known to cause blindness.  Work from his lab has demonstrated that loss of the LIF receptor, gp130 or it’s signaling intermediate STAT3, results in accelerated retinal degeneration.  The results from this work have broad implications in the understanding of human inherited retinal degeneration.  In humans, disease-causing genes are present before birth; however patients inheriting those mutations that cause retinitis pigmentosa or age related macular degeneration typically do not develop disease for 40 to 80 years.  Dr. Ash’s work suggests that LIF and its receptor gp130 keep cells alive and functioning, and serve to delay the onset and progression of disease.  Variation in efficiency of this internally protective activity could also be a partial explanation of why family members who inherit the same mutation can have a wide range in the age of onset and severity of disease.   This work has led to the identification of drug targets to promote cell survival, and has led to the development of several gene therapy approaches to specifically enhance the survival of photoreceptors and RPE which are now being tested in models of disease.

Employment history

In 1999, Dr Ash began his academic career as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006 and received full Tenure in 2007. In 2011 Dr Ash moved to the University of Florida, as the Francis M. Bullard Eminent Scholar Chair in Ophthalmic Sciences,  in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida.

Service to Scientific community

Dr. Ash has a strong commitment to vision research as demonstrated by his role in multiple national and international societies.  He was elected to serve a three-year term on the Scientific Program Committee for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, representing the Retinal Cell Biology section. He is permanent member of the Organizing Committee for the International Symposium on Retinal Degeneration.  Dr. Ash has served on the program committee for the American Diabetes Association annual meeting for which he reviewed program abstracts on ocular complications.  He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Foundation Fighting Blindness and was recently appointed as chair of their Novel Medical Therapies grant review committee. Dr. Ash serves on the International Panel of Experts for Fighting Blindness Ireland.  In addition, he is on the grant review panels for American Health Assistance Foundation.  He is an executive editor for Experimental Eye Research and Scientific Review Editor for Molecular Vision.  Dr. Ash is also a Co-editor for book on Retinal Degeneration published in 2012, and the primary editor of a 110 chapter Retinal Degeneration book to be published in 2013.

Publications in Journals

(last 5 years listed out of a total of 40)

  • Chollangi S, Mather T, Rodgers KK, Ash JD.  A unique loop structure in oncostatin M determines binding affinity towards oncostatin M receptor and leukemia inhibitory factor receptor.  J Biol Chem. (2012) July 24; [Epub ahead of print]
  • Chucair-Elliott AJ, Elliott HM, Wang J, Moiseyev GP, Ma JX, Politi LE, Rotstein NP, Akira S, Uematsu S, Ash JD,.  Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) coordinates the downregulation of the visual cycle in the retina and retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). J Biol Chem. (2012) May 29; [Epub ahead of print]
  • Li X, McClellan ME, Tanito M, Garteiser P, Towner R, Bissig D, Berkowitz BA, Fliesle SJ, Woodruff ML, Fain GL, Birch DG, Khan MS, Ash JD, Elliott MH. Loss of caveolin-1 impairs rtinal function due to disturbance of subretinal microenvironment. J Biol Chem. (2012) May 11; 287(20):16424-34.
  • Siatkowski RM, Yanovitch TL, Ash JD, Moreau A., The effects of D-penicillamine on a murine model of oxygen-induced retinopathy., J AAPOS. (2011) 15:370-373
  • Zheng, Y., Zhao, YD., Gibbons, M., Abramova, T., Chu, PY., Ash JD., Cunningham, JM., Skapek, SX., (2010), TGFb signaling directly induces Arf promoter remodeling by a mechanism involving Smads 2/3 and p38 Mapk., J. Biol. Chem. (2010)  285:35654-64. PMC2975190
  • Charles, E., Joshi, S., Ash, J.D., Fox, B.A., Farris, A.D., Bzik, D.J., Lang, M.L., Blader, I.J., CD4 T-Cell suppression by cells from toxoplasma gondii-infected retinas is mediated by PD-L1.  Infect. Immun. 2010.  (2010) 78:3484-92. PMC2916285
  • Reneker, L.W., Block, A., Xie, L. Overbeek, P.A., Ash, J.D., (2010) Induction of corneal myofibroblasts by lens-derived transforming growth factor b1 (TGFb1): a transgenic mouse model. Brain Research Bulletin, (2010), 81:287-296. PMC2814984
  • Ueki, Y., Le, Y.Z., Chollangi, S., Muller, W., Ash, J.D., (2009) Preconditioning-induced protection of photoreceptors requires activation of the signal-transducing receptor gp130 in photoreceptors. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 106(50):21389-94
  • Chollangi, S., Wang, J., Martin, A., Quinn, J., Ash, J.D., (2009) Preconditioning-Induced Protection from Oxidative Injury is Mediated by Leukemia Inhibitory Factor Receptor (LIFR) and its Ligands in the Retina, Neurobiology of Disease, 34(3):535-44
  • Ueki, Y., Ash, J.D., Zhu, M., Zheng, L., Le, Y.Z., (2009), Expression of Cre recombinase in retinal Muller cells, Vision Research, 49(6):614-21
  • LaVail, M.M., Nishikawa, S., Duncan, J.L., Haidong, Y.,  Matthes, M.M., Yasumura, D., Vollrath, D., Overbeek, P.A., Ash, J.D., Robinson, M.L., (2008), Sustained delivery of NT-3 from lens fiber cells in transgenic mice reveals specificity of neuroprotection in retinal degenerations., Journal of Comparative Neurology, 511(6):724-35
  • Templeton, A., Nguyen, G., Ash, J.D., Straub, R.H., Carr, D.J.J., (2008), Chemical Sympathectomy Increases Susceptibility to Ocular Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection., Journal of Neuroimmunology,  197:37-46
  • Ueki, Y., Wang, J., Chollangi, S., Ash, J.D., (2008) STAT3 activation in photoreceptors by leukemia inhibitory factor is associated with protection from light damage, Journal of Neurochemistry, 105:784-96.
  • Carr, D.J. Wuest, T., Ash J.,  (2008) An Increase in Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 in the Anterior Segment of the Eye is Linked to a Deficiency in NK Cell Infiltration in Mice Deficient in CXCR3, Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research, 28:245-51

Publications in Book Chapters

(last 5 years listed out of a total of 6)

  • Zhu, M., Zheng, L., Ueki, Y., Ash, J.D., Anderson, R.E., Le, Y.L., (2010) Unexpected Transcriptional activity of the Human VMD2 Promoter in retinal development. Adv Exp Med Biol 664:211-6
  • Ueki, Y., Chollangi, S., Le, Y.Z., Ash, J.D., gp130 (2010) Activation in Muller Cells is not essential for photoreceptor protection from light damage.  Adv Exp Med Biol 664:655-61

Invited Reviews

  • Kasus-Jacobi, A. & Ash, J. D.: AAV2-hRPE65v2, an adeno-associated viral vector-mediated human rpe65 gene therapy for Leber’s congenital amaurosis. Thomson Reuters Pharma (20 March 2012) [Online]. Available:
  • Mandal, M.N., Anderson, R.E., Ash, J.D.,  Injury and repair: light damage. In Encyclopedia of the eye,  Editor-in-chief: Darlene A. Dartt, Academic Press, Oxford, 2010 Pg 392-99.
  • Mandal, M.N., Anderson, R.E., Ash, J.D.,  Injury and repair: light damage. Republished in: The Retina and its disorders, by Elsevier  Limited 2011, Edited by Joseph C. Besharse and Dean Bok, Pg 338-45.
  • Vinores, S.A., Ash, J.D., (2006), Pericytes and Glial Cells and Vascular Development.  Microvascular Research: Biology And Pathology. Edited by David Shepro, Elsevier/ Academic Press, New York, pg:137-141 (Chapter 22)
  • Retinal Degenerative Diseases. Lavail, M.M.; Ash, J.; Anderson, R.E.; Hollyfield, J.G.; Grimm, C. (Eds.) Series: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Vol. 723, 2012 LXIV, 864 p.  ISBN 978-1-4614-0630-3

Books Edited

  • Retinal Degenerative Diseases. Lavail, M.M.; Ash, J.; Anderson, R.E.; Hollyfield, J.G.; Grimm, C. (Eds.) Series: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Vol. 723, 2012 LXIV, 864 p.  ISBN 978-1-4614-0630-3