Positions

Overview

  • Christopher A. Girkin, MD, MSPH, FACS is the chairman of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Ophthalmology and Chief Medical Officer for the Callahan Eye Hospital. After residency at UAB he completed a fellowship in neuro-ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute and was a Heed Glaucoma Fellow at the Hamilton Glaucoma Center at the University of California, San Diego. He joined the UAB faculty and founded the Department’s Glaucoma Service in 1999. Dr. Girkin has authored or coauthored over 160 journal articles and his research lab has been supported by Research to Prevent Blindness, Glaucoma Research Foundation, EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, the Center for Disease Control and the National Eye Institute. This research explores the mechanisms underlying the greater predilection to develop glaucomatous injury in individuals of African ancestry. Related hypothesis are explored through patient-oriented research, including morphometric and biomechanical studies of the lamina cribrosa and posterior sclera utilizing post-mortem human donor tissues along with in vivo imaging of the lamina cribrosa in the NEI-sponsored African Descent and Glaucoma Evaluation Study (ADAGES). His honors include being selected to the “Best Doctors in America” yearly from 2003 to 2016, the AAO Senior Achievement Award, two American Glaucoma Society Clinician-Scientist Awards, the Research to Prevent Blindness Clinician-Scientist Award, the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Eminent Scholar Award and the Ronald Lowe Medal.
  • Selected Publications

    Chapter

    Year Title Altmetric
    2016 Adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO).  507-557. 2016

    Research Overview

  • My primary research explores the mechanisms underlying the greater predilection to develop glaucomatous injury in individuals of African ancestry and investigates the morphometry of the optic nerve head as a biomarker to predict the development and progression of glaucomatous optic neuropathy. The overarching hypothesis is that variation in ONH morphometry and biomechanical properties are largely responsible for the increased in the susceptibility to IOP-related optic nerve injury associated with African ancestry. Related hypotheses are explored through patient-oriented research, including structural and functional evaluation of the optic nerve in the NEI-sponsored African Descent and Glaucoma Evaluation Study (ADAGES I and II) cohort (1), in-vivo studies imaging the lamina cribrosa, ADAGES IV (2), ex-vivo morphometric studies of the lamina cribrosa and posterior sclera utilizing post-mortem human donor tissues (3) and imaging-based health services research to improve care to underserved populations in the CDC-sponsored Eye Care Quality and Accessibility Improvement in the Community (EQUALITY) study.

    1) ADAGES (I,II and III) is a NEI-funded multicenter cohort study designed to evaluation the structural and functional progression of the optic nerve in glaucoma in individuals of European (ED) and African descent (AD). The study began based on my K23 grant awarded in 2001 and is now in its 12th year. The other operational sites are the University of California, San Diego and Columbia University. This collaboration has resulted in 35 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 59 abstracts. This work has been previously funded through foundation and NIH support (Research to Prevent Blindness, Glaucoma Research Foundation, American Health Assistance Foundation, EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, NIH K23: EY 13959-01, NIH U10: EY 14267-01, NIH U10: EY 14267-02, NIH RO1: EY019869-01)

    2) ADAGES IV: Using in-vivo imaging, we are evaluating structural biomarkers for glaucoma susceptibility within “deep” optic nerve structures visualized within SDOCT datasets. Our particular interest is in defining racial differences in the rate and mode of change in these structures over time to better understand potential differences in pathobiology and to better define progression of glaucomatous disease in this at-risk and underserved population. We have a developed particular focus on the deep optic nerve structures as they not only may serve as new disease biomarkers but also may have mechanistic involvement with the pathogenesis of axonal injury. (NIH R01: EY026574)

    3) DONER (Digital Optic Nerve Episcopic Reconstruction) Library: We have developed a unique library of high-resolution 3D reconstructions from human donor eyes with associated clinical records. Donor ocular tissues were fixed at physiologic and elevated pressures to mimic in-vivo loading conditions in order to enable accurate morphometric and biomechanical analysis. This database currently contains over 190 reconstructed donor pairs. Each reconstruction was develop using an episcopic fluorescent technique that produces high-fidelity reconstructions of the load-bearing connective tissues of the optic nerve head to a resolution of 1.5 cubic micron voxel. We are utilizing these unique digital reconstructions to test the hypothesis that variations in three- dimensional (3D) laminar architecture are critical in determining individual susceptibility to glaucomatous injury. Specifically, that variations in laminar 3D architecture and biomechanical behavior are associated with well-described risk factors for glaucomatous disease such as increasing age and African ancestry. This work has been funded through the NEI and foundation support (NIH RO1: EY18926, NIH RO1: EY19333, NIH RO1: EY018923, Research to Prevent Blindness - Clinician Scientist Award, EyeSight Foundation Research Grant).
  • Principal Investigator On

  • African Descent and Glaucoma Evaluation (ADAGES)  awarded by University of California, San Diego
  • African Descent and Glaucoma Evaluation (ADAGES) II: Glaucoma Progression  awarded by University of California, San Diego
  • Age-Related Changes in Optic Nerve Head Structure and Biomechanics  awarded by LEGACY HEALTH SYSTEM
  • Determinants of the Biomechanical Behavior of the Human Lamina Cribrosa  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Dynamic Variable Aqueous Humor Outflow and Glaucoma Therapies in the Human Eye  awarded by DOHENY EYE INSTITUTE
  • Physician - Scientist Award  awarded by Research to Prevent Blindness
  • Private Grant  awarded by SOLX, INC.
  • Private Grant  awarded by HEIDELBERG ENGINEERING
  • Proficient Glaucoma Care Delivery Model Based on Automated Structural and Functional Assessment of the Optic Nerve  awarded by CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DHHS
  • Racial Variations in Optic Nerve Head Structure and Biomechanics  awarded by LEGACY HEALTH SYSTEM
  • Statistical Analyses Service for Dr. Paul Lee of the University of Michigan  awarded by University of Michigan
  • UAB Subaward - Admixture Mapping of Glaucoma Genes in African Americans  awarded by Duke University
  • Unrestricted Departmental Support  awarded by Research to Prevent Blindness
  • Unrestricted Grant  awarded by Research to Prevent Blindness
  • Unrestricted Grant  awarded by Research to Prevent Blindness
  • Vision Science Research Center P30 Core Grant - Electronics Module  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • xADAGES III: Contribution of Genotype to Glaucoma Phenotype  awarded by University of California, San Diego
  • Investigator On

  • African Descent and Glaucoma Evaluation (ADAGES) IV: Alterations of the Lamina Cribrosa in Progression  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Age- and Race-Related Differences in Optic Nerve Head Structure and Biomechanics  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Center for Translational Research on Aging and Mobility  awarded by National Institute on Aging/NIH/DHHS
  • Center for Translational Research on Aging and Mobility - Core B: Pilot Core  awarded by National Institute on Aging/NIH/DHHS
  • Continuous Telemetric Measurement and Chronic Control of Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure  awarded by BRIGHT FOCUS FOUNDATION
  • Early Detection of Glaucoma Progression Using a Novel Individualized Approach  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Enhancing Glaucoma Medication Adherence Among African Americans  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Improving Access to and Quality Eye Care in an At-Risk, Underserved Population  awarded by National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promo./CDC/DHHS
  • Inflammatory, Cholesterol and Genetic Characteristics in Older Adults in Normal Retinal Health as Potential Biomarkers for the Incident Development of Early Age-Related Maculopathy  awarded by EyeSight Foundation of Alabama ^
  • Optic Nerve Head Mechanobiology in Glaucoma  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Perceptual Mechanisms Underlying Reading Difficulties in Glaucoma  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Private Grant  awarded by ALCON RESEARCH, LTD.
  • Using Telemedicine to Improve Glaucoma Care: An Emerging Eye Care Delivery Model  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Using Telemedicine to Prevent Blindness in an at-Risk Rural Alabama Population - Component A  awarded by CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DHHS
  • Vision Science Research Center  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Education And Training

  • University of Arkansas Medical Center, Internship
  • UAB Hospital, Residency
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital, Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Master of Public Health in Epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham 2004
  • Doctor of Medicine in Ophthalmology Residency Program, University of Arkansas System (AR) : Community College at Hope (2-year campus) 1993
  • Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry, Drury College 1989
  • Full Name

  • Christopher Girkin