Dr. Kizhatil is an associate research scientist at The Jackson Laboratory. Dr. Kizhatil earned a PhD in microbiology and immunology at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, where he uncovered a new role for the cellular cytoskeleton in murine retrovirus entry. Using his initial finding as a template, other groups have found a requirement for the cellular cytoskeleton in entry of other retroviruses, including HIV. This early work was followed by postdoctoral studies at Duke University, where he identified a novel and conserved role for the membrane skeletal protein ankyrin in post-Golgi delivery of membrane proteins to the plasma membrane in epithelial cells and photoreceptors. Dr. Kizhatil has been an extremely productive scientist and has published several high-quality papers in peer-reviewed journals during both his graduate work as well as postdoctoral studies. At The Jackson Laboratory, he works closely with Dr. Simon John, a leading glaucoma researcher.
Dr. Kizhatil’s research is focused on identifying molecular pathways regulating intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation, a major risk factor for glaucoma. His studies have shown that Schlemm’s canal (SC) which is central in ocular fluid homeostasis, hence IOP, and thus is directly relevant to glaucoma, has a novel, specialized phenotype with properties that are a blend of blood and lymphatic endothelia based on expression of marker proteins of each lineage. His work also has made important advances in resolving a decade's old controversy about the developmental origins and developmental sequence of the SC. The paper describing these findings was honored with the Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize in 2015.