Matthew M. Harper, PhD

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Contact Information

Bldg 42 VAMC
Iowa City, IA 52242


BS, Biology, Iowa State University
PhD, Neuroscience Graduate Program, Iowa State University
Postdoctoral Fellow, Neuroscience, Iowa State University

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Institute for Vision Research

Research Summary

The overall goal of my research program is to understand the effects of traumatic brain injury on the visual system. My lab has chosen to examine the visual system because of its highly accessible nature and the ability to examine retinal structure and function over time, which provides longitudinal information that is not possible to examine in the brain. Using animal models we have found that retinal ganglion cells in the eye are highly susceptible to blast-mediated traumatic brain injury, and that this damage is variable based on genetic background. Understanding the physiology of retinal ganglion cells after injury has allowed us to begin to define the molecular pathways by which these cells become dysfunctional and subsequently die after injury. We are currently developing and testing novel therapies to prevent and rehabilitate damage to the visual system after TBI. We are hopeful that these therapies can be extended to treat other diseases affecting retinal ganglion cells and the optic nerve.


Hedberg-Buenz, A., Christopher, M. A., Lewis, C. J., Meyer, K. J., Rudd, D. S., Dutca, L. M., Wang, K., Garvin, M. K., Scheetz, T. E., Abràmoff, M. D., Harper, M. M. & Anderson, M. G. (2015). RetFM-J, an ImageJ-based module for automated counting and quantifying features of nuclei in retinal whole-mounts. Experimental eye research. PMID: 26283021.

Shevalye, H., Yorek, M. S., Coppey, L. J., Holmes, A., Harper, M. M., Kardon, R. H. & Yorek, M. A. (2015). Effect of enriching the diet with menhaden oil or daily treatment with resolvin D1 on neuropathy in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes. Journal of neurophysiology, 114(1), 199-208. PMID: 25925322.

Yorek, M. S., Obrosov, A., Shevalye, H., Holmes, A., Harper, M. M., Kardon, R. H. & Yorek, M. A. (2015). Effect of diet-induced obesity or type 1 or type 2 diabetes on corneal nerves and peripheral neuropathy in C57Bl/6J mice. Journal of the peripheral nervous system: JPNS, 20(1), 24-31. PMID: 25858759.

Dutca, L. M., Stasheff, S. F., Hedberg-Buenz, A., Rudd, D. S., Batra, N., Blodi, F. R., Yorek, M. S., Yin, T., Shankar, M., Herlein, J. A., Naidoo, J., Morlock, L., Williams, N., Kardon, R. H., Anderson, M. G., Pieper, A. A. & Harper, M. M. (2014). Early detection of subclinical visual damage after blast-mediated TBI enables prevention of chronic visual deficit by treatment with P7C3-S243. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 55(12), 8330-41. PMID: 25468886.

Yin, T. C., Britt, J. K., De Jesús-Cortés, H., Lu, Y., Genova, R. M., Khan, M. Z., Voorhees, J. R., Shao, J., Katzman, A. C., Huntington, P. J., Wassink, C., McDaniel, L., Newell, E. A., Dutca, L. M., Naidoo, J., Cui, H., Bassuk, A. G., Harper, M. M., McKnight, S. L., Ready, J. M. & Pieper, A. A. (2014). P7C3 neuroprotective chemicals block axonal degeneration and preserve function after traumatic brain injury. Cell reports, 8(6), 1731-40. PMID: 25220467.

Yorek, M. S., Obrosov, A., Shevalye, H., Lupachyk, S., Harper, M. M., Kardon, R. H. & Yorek, M. A. (2014). Effect of glycemic control on corneal nerves and peripheral neuropathy in streptozotocin-induced diabetic C57Bl/6J mice. Journal of the peripheral nervous system: JPNS, 19(3), 205-17. PMID: 25403729.

Harper, M. M. (2014). Author response: Pressure wave dosimetry for "Retinal ganglion cell damage in an experimental rodent model of blast-mediated traumatic brain injury". Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 55(3), 1350-1. PMID: 24603601.

Wang, Q., Grozdanic, S. D., Harper, M. M., Hamouche, K., Hamouche, N., Kecova, H., Lazic, T., Hernandez-Merino, E. & Yu, C. (2013). Detection and characterization of glaucoma-like canine retinal tissues using Raman spectroscopy. Journal of biomedical optics, 18(6), 067008. PMID: 23804216.

Antony, B. J., Abràmoff, M. D., Harper, M. M., Jeong, W., Sohn, E. H., Kwon, Y. H., Kardon, R. & Garvin, M. K. (2013). A combined machine-learning and graph-based framework for the segmentation of retinal surfaces in SD-OCT volumes. Biomedical optics express, 4(12), 2712-28. PMID: 24409375.

Harper, M. M. (2013). Visual Function and its management in mTBI. IN: New Information Learned from experimental blast TBI. Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute Press.

Mohan, K., Harper, M. M., Kecova, H., Ye, E. A., Lazic, T., Sakaguchi, D. S., Kardon, R. H. & Grozdanic, S. D. (2012). Characterization of structure and function of the mouse retina using pattern electroretinography, pupil light reflex, and optical coherence tomography. Veterinary ophthalmology, 15 Suppl 2, 94-104. PMID: 22642927.

Mohan, K., Kecova, H., Hernandez-Merino, E., Kardon, R. H. & Harper, M. M. (2012). Retinal ganglion cell damage in an experimental rodent model of blast-mediated traumatic brain injury. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 54(5), 3340-50. PMID: 23620426.

Harper, M. M., Mohan, K., Kecova, H., Hernandez-Merino, E. & Kardon, R. H. (2012). Experimental blast-mediated TBI results in a biphasic loss of visual function. 5th military vision symposium on Ocular and Vision Injury.

Wang, Q., Grozdanic, S. D., Harper, M. M., Hamouche, N., Kecova, H., Lazic, T. & Yu, C. (2011). Exploring Raman spectroscopy for the evaluation of glaucomatous retinal changes. Journal of Biomedical Optics, 16(10), 107006. PMID: 22029368.

Harper, M. M., Grozdanic, S. D., Blits, B., Kuehn, M. H., Zamzow, D., Buss, J. E., Kardon, R. H. & Sakaguchi, D. S. (2011). Transplantation of BDNF-secreting mesenchymal stem cells provides neuroprotection in chronically hypertensive rat eyes. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 52(7), 4506-15. PMID: 21498611.

Jiang, B., Harper, M. M., Kecova, H., Adamus, G., Kardon, R. H., Grozdanic, S. D. & Kuehn, M. H. (2010). Neuroinflammation in advanced canine glaucoma. Mol Vis, 16, 2092-108. PMID: 21042562.

Grozdanic, S. D., Lazic, T., Kuehn, M. H., Harper, M. M., Kardon, R. H., Kwon, Y. H., Lavik, E. B. & Sakaguchi, D. S. (2010). Exogenous modulation of intrinsic optic nerve neuroprotective activity. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol, 248(8), 1105-16. PMID: 20229104.

Grozdanic, S. D., Kecova, H., Harper, M. M., Nilaweera, W., Kuehn, M. H. & Kardon, R. H. (2010). Functional and structural changes in a canine model of hereditary primary angle-closure glaucoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 51(1), 255-63. PMID: 19661222.

Harper, M. M., Adamson, L., Blits, B., Bunge, M. B., Grozdanic, S. D. & Sakaguchi, D. S. (2009). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor released from engineered mesenchymal stem cells attenuates glutamate- and hydrogen peroxide-mediated death of staurosporine-differentiated RGC-5 cells. Exp Eye Res, 89(4), 538-48. PMID: 19524566.

Harper, M. M., Ye, E. A., Blong, E. A., Jacobson, M. L. & Sakaguchi, D. S. (2009). Integrins contribute to initial morphological development and process outgrowth in rat adult hippocampal progenitor cells. J Mol Neurosci, 40(3), 269-83. PMID: 19499350.

Grozdanic, S. D., Harper, M. M. & Kecova, H. (2008). Antibody-mediated retinopathies in canine patients: mechanism, diagnosis, and treatment modalities. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract, 38(2), 361-87. PMID: 18299012.

Sakaguchi, D. S., Hoffelen, S. V., Greenlee, M. H., Harper, M. M. & Au, D. T. (2008). Cell birth and death in the developing retina of the Brazilian opossum, Monodelphis domestica. Brain Res, 1195, 28-42. PMID: 18191114.

Sakaguchi, D. S., Van Hoffelen, S. J., Theusch, E., Parker, E., Orasky, J., Harper, M. M., Benediktsson, A. & Young, M. J. (2004). Transplantation of neural progenitor cells into the developing retina of the Brazilian opossum: an in vivo system for studying stem/progenitor cell plasticity. Dev Neurosci, 26(5-6), 336-45. PMID: 15855762.