Renu A. Kowluru (ah3774)

University information

Title: Professor
Unit: Ophthalmology Visual Anatomical Sci
Department: School of Medicine

Contact information

Kresge Eye Institute
4717 St Antoine
Detroit, 48201

Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences

Position Title: Professor
Office Phone: (313) 993-6714

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common and devastating complications of diabetes. It is the leading cause of acquired blindness in working-age adults. Dr. Kowluru’s research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of the development of this vision-threatening disease, especially the role of ‘Mitochondria’, in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. Her lab is investigating how hyperglycemia damages mitochondrial structural, functional and genomic stability, and the role of epigenetic modifications in mitochondrial homeostasis and its antioxidant defense system.

Dr. Kowluru’s laboratory is also working on the metabolic memory phenomenon associated with the continued progression of diabetic retinopathy after cessation of hyperglycemic insult, and how damaged mitochondria continues to fuel into a self-propagating cycle of free radicals.

Dr. Kowluru is the Director of Translational Research, and is a course co-coordinator of ‘Biology of the Eye’. She co-directs a course on Diabetic Retinopathy during the annual meetings of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

Research Support
National Eye Institute: R01 EY014370, R01 EY017313 and R01 EY022230
The Thomas Foundation

  • Member-Academy of Scholars, Wayne State University (2011- )
  • ARVO Fellow- Silver medal level (2010), Gold medal level (2013)
  • Member, Professional Development Committee, Society of Free Radical Biology & Medicine (2013-)
  • Represented as one of the four members of the ARVO’s delegation at the Chinese Congress of Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Shenyang, China (2013
  • Research Mentor Award for the new faculty-Dr. Kyle Burghart, Wayne State University (2015)
  • ARVO’s Global Mentorship Program and Women's Leadership Program (2016-
  • School of Medicine, Wayne State University ‘Distinguished Faculty’ award (2018)
  • Co-Chair, Strategic Planning Committee, National Eye Institute, ‘From Genes to Disease Mechanisms’ (2019-2021)
  • Member- National Eye Advisory Council, National Institutes of Health (2020-2024)
  • Member-Eye Health Interest Group Leadership Team, American Diabetes Association (2019-)
  • Member- Restoring Vision Moonshot Initiative - Basic and Cellular Mechanisms Working Group, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (2020-
  • Member, Professional Development Education Committee, ARVO (2020-
  • Board of Governors Foundation for Vision Research, ARVO (2021-
  • Editorial Board member, Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs (Ashlely Publications, London)
  • Editorial Board member, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Editorial Board member, Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
  • Editorial Board member, Journal of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity
  • Editorial Board member, World Journal of Diabetes
  • Guest Editorial Board Member, Diabetes
Links of Interest:

Kresge Eye Institute

Selected publications:
  • Madsen-Bouterse SA, Mohammad G, Kanwar M, Kowluru RA. Role of Mitochondrial DNA damage in the development of diabetic retinopathy, and the metabolic memory phenomenon associated with its progression. Antioxid Redox Signal 13:797-805, 2010
  • Zhong Q, Kowluru RA. Epigenetic changes in mitochondrial superoxide dismutase in the retina, and the development of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes 60:1304-1313, 2011
  • Santos JM, Tewari S, Goldberg AF, Kowluru RA. Mitochondria biogenesis and the development of diabetic retinopathy. Free Rad Biol Med 51: 1849-1860, 2011
  • Tewari S, Santos JM and Kowluru RA. Damaged mitochondrial DNA replication system and the development of diabetic retinopathy. Antioxid Redox Signal, 17:492-504, 2012
  • Mishra M, Kowluru RA. Retinal mitochondrial DNA mismatch repair in the development of diabetic retinopathy, and its continued progression after termination of hyperglycemia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55: 6960-6967, 2014
  • Kumar B, Kowluru A, Kowluru RA. Lipotoxicity augments glucotoxicity-induced mitochondrial damage in the development of diabetic retinopathy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 56: 2985-2992, 2015
  • Mishra M, Lillvis J, Tewari S, Kowluru R. Peripheral blood mitochondrial DNA damage as a potential noninvasive biomarker of diabetic retinopathy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 57:4035-4044, 2016
  • Mishra M, Duraisamy AJ, Kowluru RA. Sirt1- A guardian of the development of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes 67:745-754, 2018
  • Kowluru RA. Mitochondrial stability in diabetic retinopathy: Lessons learned from epigenetics. Diabetes 68:141-247, 2019
  • Duraisamy AJ, Mohammad G, Kowluru RA. Mitochondrial fusion and maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis in diabetic retinopathy. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 1865:1617-1626, 2019
  • Mohammad G, Radhakrishnana R, Kowluru RA. Epigenetic modifications compromise mitochondrial DNA quality control in the development of diabetic retinopathy. Inves Ophthalmol Vis Sci 60:3943-3951, 2019
  • Ferrington DA, Fisher CR, Kowluru RA. Mitochondrial defects drive degenerative retinal diseases. Trends in Mol Dis 26:105-118, 2020
  • Mohammad G, Kowluru RA. Homocysteine disrupts balance between MMP-9 and its tissue inhibitor in diabetic retinopathy: The role of DNA methylation. Int J Mol Sci 21: E1771, 2020
  • Radhakrishnan R, Kowluru RA. Long noncoding RNA MALAT1 and regulation of the antioxidant defense system in diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes 70: 1-13, 2021
PubMed Link


Renu A. Kowluru

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