Maria Valeria Canto-Soler, PhD, is an assistant professor of ophthalmology, and director of the Retinal Degenerations Research Center, at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Canto-Soler completed her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Austral University in Buenos Aires, Argentina and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
Her research focuses on two main, highly complementary areas: the mechanisms that control retinal progenitor cell differentiation and the use of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to model normal and diseased conditions of the retina. Within this framework, her lab has recently established a strategy to direct hiPSC to differentiate into three-dimensional light-sensitive retinal tissue in vitro; she and her team are now using these retinal organoids to study the mechanisms underlying retinal degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and to develop therapeutic treatments for these conditions.
Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, Research to Prevent Blindness, and the Falk Medical Research Trust, among others. She has received several national and international awards including the Alcon Research Institute Young Investigator Award, and the William & Mary Greve Special Scholar Award from Research to Prevent Blindness. She has also recently been named Outstanding Personality by the Council of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in recognition to her scientific contributions.