Lin Cheng, MD, PhD

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA

Dr. Lin Cheng obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Clinical Medicine (M.D. degree), Magna cum laude, as a joint-training-student of Sichuan University and Chengdu University of TCM, China in 2011. She then enrolled in Central South University of China as a Ph.D. student of Prof. Hong-Hao Zhou, who is the pioneer of the pharmacogenetics and the pharmacogenomics field of China. During her Ph.D. training, she won the high-competitive scholarship from China Scholarship Council to do research at Schepens Eye Research Institute/ Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, affiliate of Harvard Medical School, as a Sino-US Joint Ph.D. student. After earning her Ph.D. degree, she moved to Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, a teaching hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, as a postdoc fellow. Currently, she is working as a Postdoc Fellow at the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa, and Investigator at the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss, VA Iowa City VA Health Care System.

Dr. Cheng’s research interests are pharmacogenetic study on drug adverse reactions and new therapy targets, and application of stem cells in regeneration of eye tissues.

During her Ph.D. training, Dr. Cheng focused on drug adverse reactions, in particular, the allopurinol-induced Severe Cutaneous Adverse Reactions (SCARs), including drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), Stevens–Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). SCARs are rare but life-threatening conditions. She did a multicenter retrospective case–control clinical study and found HLA-B*58:01 is strongly associated with allopurinol-induced SCARs in Han Chinese patients. Her finding is used in clinical practice guideline for management of acute and recurrent gout from the American College of Physicians and an update management of DRESS. Later on, she suggested an accurate, prompt and cost-effective method to screen HLA-B*5801 positive individuals before prescribing allopurinol; this could substantially avoid allopurinol-induced SCARs and life-threaten tragedies. Then she showed PSORS1C1 hypomethylation is associated with allopurinol-SCARs during disease onset, suggesting that aberrant DNA methylation may be a mechanism of allopurinol-SCARs. She is currently working on the mechanisms of disease-associated proteins in Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Another research interest for Dr. Cheng is use of stem cell for regeneration of optic nerve, trabecular meshwork (TM) and retinal ganglion cells. Over 10 years, Dr. Cheng has been trained both in basic science and clinical medicine of ophthalmic field. She has developed an exceptional repertoire of knowledge and skills that spans stem cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, statistics, and bioart illustration and design. The stem cell approaches have shown great promise for treating developmental and degenerative disorders and injures in the brain and the eye. Stem cells could be a potential source for cell replacement therapy. Dr. Cheng has optimized a fast procedure to generate both induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and induced neural stem cells (iNSCs) in a single experiment from urine epithelium cells, a convenient and non-invasive source of somatic cells for reprogramming. She is currently working on the mechanisms how stem cells could lead to endogenous TM proliferation and use of retinal and cerebral organoids to study progressive neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Cheng is the PI of 3 projects, published 29 SCI-indexed papers and give 14 poster or oral presentations in international or national conferences. Dr. Cheng is an active reviewer for journals including British Journal of DermatologyFrontier in Molecular NeuroscienceFrontier in Pharmacology and BMJ case reports. Dr. Cheng commits to the prevention or cure of ocular degenerative diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA), and adverse drug reactions & pharmacovigilance.