Deborah Ferrington, PhD

Professor, Elaine and Robert Larson Endowed Vision Research Chair, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences

Graduate School, University of Kansas



Age-related macular degeneration, Immunoproteasome and cellular stress response, Proteasome function in the aging retina

Awards & Recognition

  • Co-founder Lions Mac Center
  • Invited Speaker, International Society of Eye Research, Montreal, Canada, 2010
  • Keynote Speaker, Midwest Eye Research Symposium, Iowa City, IA, 2010
  • Invited Speaker, Oxidative Stress and Disease Gordon Research Conference, Il Ciocco, Italy, 2009
  • Invited Speaker, International Society of Eye Research, Beijing, China, 2008
  • Invited Speaker, Biology of Aging Gordon Research Conference, Les Diables, Switzerland, 2007
  • Invited Symposium Speaker, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology International Conference, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 2006-07
  • Fesler-Lampert Chair in Aging Research, Center on Aging, University of Minnesota, 2003-04


Research Summary/Interests

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among the elderly in the developed world. Current treatment options for AMD are available only to a limited number of patients with advanced “wet AMD”. However, these treatments are initiated after vision loss has started and are designed to treat the lesion, i.e., sealing off leaking blood vessels, but do not address disease pathogenesis. Ideally, the most efficacious therapy for AMD should be started prior to vision loss and target the fundamental molecular defect, which requires defining disease mechanism.

One current reseearch goal is to help define the molecular defects in retinal cells that are responsible for the pathology associated with AMD.

The proteasome proteolytic complex plays a fundamental role in processes essential for cell viability, such as cell cycle regulation, control of signal transduction and gene expression, and the degradation of oxidized and misfolded proteins. A recent focus of our lab has been to define conditions that provoke the upregulation of immunoproteasome in the central nervous system. Data derived from this experimental approach provide some indication that immunoproteasome’s function goes beyond its well-defined role in immune surveillance.




  • Fisher CR, Ferrington DA. Perspective on AMD Pathobiology: A Bioenergetic Crisis in the RPE. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 59, no. 4 (2018): AMD41-AMD47.
  • Ferrington DA, Ebeling MC, Kapphahn RJ, Terluk MR, Fisher CR, Polanco JR, Roehrich H, Leary MM, Geng Z, Dutton JR, Montezuma SR. Altered bioenergetics and enhanced resistance to oxidative stress in human retinal pigment epithelial cells from donors with age-related macular degeneration. Redox Biol. 2017 Jun 1;13:255-265.
  • Montezuma, S. R. Dolezal, L. D., Mar, K., Jordan, M., Rageh, A., Ferrington, D.A., Retinal Protection by Lactoferrin in the Murine Laser Model of Choroidal Neovascularization. Current Eye Research (accepted for publication)
  • Geng Z, Walsh PJ, Truong V, Hill C, Ebeling M, Kapphahn RJ, Montezuma SR, Yuan C, Roehrich H, Ferrington DA, Dutton JR. Generation of retinal pigmented epithelium from iPSCs derived from the conjunctiva of donors with and without age related macular degeneration. PLOS ONE. 2017 Mar 10.
  • Heuss, N.D., Pierson, M.J., Montaniel, K.R.C., McPherson, S.W., Lehmann, U., Hussong, S.A., Ferrington, D.A., Low, W.C., and Gregerson, D.S. Retinal Dendritic Cell Recruitment, But Not Function, Was Inhibited in MyD88 and TRIF deficient Mice. J Neuroinflammation, 2014, 11:143. 
  • Chen C-N., Graber T.G., Bratten W.M., Ferrington D.A., Thompson L.V. Immunoproteasome in Animal Models of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Journal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility, 2014, 35: 191-201. 
  • Yuan C., Twite M., Ferrington D.A. The Emerging Role of Immunoproteasome in Vision. Journal of SciMed Ophthalmology, 2013, 1:1001. 
  • Ferrington D.A., Roehrich H., Chang A., Huang C.S., Maldonado M., Bratten W., Rageh A.A., Heuss N.D., Gregerson D.S., Nelson E.F., Yuan C. Corneal Wound Healing is Compromised by Immunoproteasome Deficiency. PLoS ONE. 2013; 8(1): e54347.
  • Maldonado M.M., Kapphahn R.J., Terluk M.R., Heuss N.D., Yuan C., Gregerson D.S., Ferrington D.A. Immunoproteasome Deficiency Modifies the Alternative Pathway of NFkB Signaling. PLoS One. 2013; 8(2): e56187.
  • Hussong S.A., Roehrich H., Kapphahn R.J., Maldonado M., Pardue M.T., Ferrington D.A. A Novel Role for Immunoproteasome in Retinal Function. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011; 52: 714-23.
  • Karunadharma P.P., Nordgaard C.L., Olsen T.W., Ferrington D.A. Mitochondrial DNA Damage as a Potential Mechanism for Age-related Macular Degeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010; 51: 5470-79.
  • Hussong S.A., Kapphahn R.J., Phillips S.L., Maldonado M., Ferrington D.A. Immunoproteasome Deficiency Alters Retinal Proteasome’s Response to Stress. J Neurochem. 2010; 113:1481-90.
  • Chen C.N., Brown-Borg H.M., Rakoczy S.G., Ferrington D.A., Thompson L.V. Aging Impairs the Expression of the Catalytic Subunit of Glutamate Cysteine Ligase in Soleus Muscle Under Stress. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010; 65: 129-37.


Book Chapters

  • Kenney, C.M., Ferrington, D.A., Udar, N. (2013). Mitochondrial Genetics of Retinal Disease. Retina: Fifth Edition; Ryan, S.J., Sadda, S.R., Hinton, D.R., eds, Elsevier, Sauders, 635-641.

Submitted Book Chapters

  • Ferrington, D.A., Schoneich, C. (2015) Chapter 22: Chemistry of Protein Aging. Molecular and Cellular Biology of Aging; Vijg, J., Campesi, J., Lithgow, G., eds, eBook Gerontological Society of America (in revision).


Poster Abstract Presentations at Professional Meetings and Conferences

  • Schuld, N.J., Hussong, S.A., Kapphahn, K.J., Rageh, A., Huess, N.D., Gregerson, DS, Ferrington, D.A. Immunoproteasome’s Role in Stress Response and Temporal PTEN/AKT Signaling after Optic Nerve Crush. International Congress for Eye Research, San Francisco, CA, 2014
  • Ferrington, D.A., Kapphahn, R.J., Terluk, M., Ebeling, M.C., Roehrich, H., van Kuijk, F., Montezuma, S., Kenney, M.C., Atilano, S.R., Herbert, G., Lutty, G.A., Bok, D. Investigating AMD Disease Mechanism Using Human Donor Tissue. Beckman Initiative for Macular Research Meeting, Irvine CA, 2014
  • Terluk, M., Ebeling, M.C., Roehrich, H., Kapphahn, R.J., Goode, K., Kenney, C. M., Atilano, S., Montezuma, S., Ferrington, D. A., Determining the Influence of AMD Phenotype/Genotype on the RPE Stress Response. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Orlando, FL, 2014.
  • Rageh, A. A., Roehrich, H., Abdullah, S., Burckhard, B., Ferrington, D.A., Montezuma, S. In Vivo Scoring of the Endotoxin-Induced Uveitis Model using Optical Coherence Tomography: Comparison with Fundus Imaging and Histology. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Orlando, FL, 2014
  • Goode, K., Kapphahn, R. J., Montezuma, S., Ferrington, D.A. Gene expression analysis from human donor retinal pigment epithelium. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Orlando, FL, 2014.
  • Rageh, A. A., Jordan, M., Heuss, N., Gregerson, D.S., Ferrington, D.A., Montezuma, S. Cytokine production in the endotoxin-induced uveitis model. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Seattle, WA, 2013.
  • Dolezal, L., Mar, K., Rageh, A., Jordan, M., Ferrington, D.A., Montezuma, S. Retinal Protection by Lactoferrin in the Murine Laser Model of Choroidal Neovascularization. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Seattle, WA, 2013
  • Terluk, M., Soukup, L., Montezuma, S., Ferrington, D.A. Mitochondrial DNA Damage Increases with Age-related Macular Degeneration in the RPE but Not Neural Retina. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Seattle, WA, 2013.
  • Kapphahn, R., Roehrich, H., Ferrington, D.A., van Kuijk, F. Zinc Staining of Sub-RPE Deposits in Murine Models of Retinal egeneration. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Seattle, WA, 2013.
  • Yuan, C.., Roehrich, H., Nelson, E.F., Gregerson, D.S., Ferrington, D.A. Immunoproteasome Expression In Corneal Epithelium, And Its Roles In Tissue Homeostasis And Wound Healing. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 2012.