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Paloma Borrajo Liton

Professor in Ophthalmology
Ophthalmology, Glaucoma
DUMC 3802, Durham, NC 27710
2351 Erwin Road, Aeri 4004, Durham, NC 27705

Research Interests


  1. To investigate a role of autophagy in the physiology and pathophysiology of the trabecular meshwork (TM)/Schlemms’s canal (SC) outflow pathway: The TM/SC is a complex tissue located in the anterior segment of the eye responsible of maintaining proper levels of intraocular pressure (IOP). Failure of this tissue function is associated with increase risk in developing glaucoma, a potentially permanent blinding disease, affecting more than 70 million people worldwide. Liton’s lab is focused on studying the regulation of autophagy under mechanical stretch and shear stress conditions in TM cells.
  2. To investigate a role of autophagy neurodegeneration in glaucoma: The exact molecular mechanisms triggering retinal ganglion cell death and axonal degeneration in glaucoma are still not fully understood. Liton’s lab is investigating the independent contribution of autophagy to apoptotic RGC death and axonal degeneration in acute injury and chronic hypertensive experimental models of glaucoma. Identification of the early critical molecular events in RGCs in response to elevated IOP would add to our understanding of the nature of glaucomatous injury and provide potential targets for neuroprotective strategies for the treatment of glaucoma.
  3. Mechanisms of aging in the trabecular meshwork: Aging is the primary risk factor for ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Yet, the mechanisms by which aging predisposes to disease are not entirely understood. Liton’s lab previously reported the accumulation of senescent cells in the TM from glaucoma donors. Their goal now is to investigate the potential cellular mechanisms by which senescent cells accumulate in the outflow pathway and contribute to ocular hypertension and glaucoma.

Selected Grants


Autophagy and Retinal Ganglion Cell Death in Glaucoma

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2022 - 2026

Autophagy and Mechanotransduction in the Trabecular Meshwork

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2016 - 2025

Genetic and Genomics Training Grant

Inst. Training Prgm or CMEMentor · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2020 - 2025

Deciphering the local effect of glaucoma risk factors on axonal mitoproteome

ResearchCollaborator · Awarded by BrightFocus Foundation · 2021 - 2024

Autophagy and Retinal Ganglion Cell Death in Glaucoma

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2022 - 2026

Autophagy and Mechanotransduction in the Trabecular Meshwork

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2016 - 2025

Genetic and Genomics Training Grant

Inst. Training Prgm or CMEMentor · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2020 - 2025

Deciphering the local effect of glaucoma risk factors on axonal mitoproteome

ResearchCollaborator · Awarded by BrightFocus Foundation · 2021 - 2024

Phosphoinositide signaling in glaucoma: rescue strategies for Lowe syndrome

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by Stanford University · 2022 - 2023

Regulation of inflammation and lipid homeostasis by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in age-related macular degeneration

ResearchCollaborator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2018 - 2023

Primary cilia-mediated nitric oxide production in Schlemm's canal cells

ResearchCo Investigator · Awarded by Glaucoma Research Foundation · 2022 - 2023

Lysosomal Enzymes in Outflow Pathway Physiology and Pathophysiology

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2017 - 2022

Organization and Function of Cellular Structure

Inst. Training Prgm or CMEMentor · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 1975 - 2020

Analysis of DNA transport in electrotransfected cells

ResearchCo Investigator · Awarded by National Science Foundation · 2013 - 2017

Lysosomal enzymes, Glycosaminoglycans and Outflow Pathway Physiology

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by Glaucoma Research Foundation · 2015 - 2016

Autophagic Lysosomal Pathway and Glaucoma

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2010 - 2015

Oxidative Stress and Lysosomal Function in the Outflow Pathway

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Institutes of Health · 2008 - 2011

External Relationships


  • Brightfocus Grant Review Panel
  • Editorial and Advisory Boards for journals

This faculty member (or a member of their immediate family) has reported outside activities with the companies, institutions, or organizations listed above. This information is available to institutional leadership and, when appropriate, management plans are in place to address potential conflicts of interest.