(352) 273-9342 (phone)
(352) 392-3062 (fax)
Academic Research Building, Rm R3-128
Academic Research Building, Rm R2-236, R2-240, R2-245
Dr. Shannon E. Boye received her B.S. in marine biology with a minor in chemistry from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2001. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Florida in 2006. Her thesis work involved developing viral vectors for the treatment of retinal disease, specifically GUCY2D Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA1). Following a postdoctoral fellowship and research assistant professorship under Dr. William Hauswirth, Dr. Boye was appointed as tenure track Assistant Professor in the University of Florida’s Department of Ophthalmology (2012). Dr. Boye’s lab currently focuses heavily on four areas of research. (1) Developing a treatment for GUCY2D Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA1)- Her lab has demonstrated the ability to restore retinal function and visually-guided behavior and preserve retinal structure in several animal models of this devastating early-onset retinal dystrophy. Dr. Boye is now moving beyond this proof-of-concept work to develop a clinical-grade AAV vector with which to perform safety studies. Dr. Boye and her collaborators are hopeful that this treatment will be applied to patients within two years. (2) Optimizing AAV vectors to target genes to photoreceptors following intravitreal injection- Because most retinal degenerations are caused by mutations in photoreceptor-specific genes, there is a great need to develop photoreceptor-targeted gene therapies. Of equal importance is the need to develop an injection procedure which is less invasive than the state of the art (subretinal injection), particularly when an underlying genetic defect leads to a degenerative process and a fragile retina prone to further damage upon surgically induced retinal detachment. Using both rational mutagenesis and directed evolution techniques, the Boye lab seeks to develop AAV vectors that possess an enhanced ability to transduce photoreceptor cells, notably foveal cones, following intravitreal delivery. (3) Expanding AAV vector technology- The Boye lab is actively developing novel, dual AAV vector platforms which are capable of delivering large transgenes. Once thought to be a limiting factor for AAV gene delivery, this technology will allow for the treatment of many diseases associated with mutations in large genes (>~5kb). Specific emphasis is placed on myosinVIIa Usher syndrome (USH1b), ABCA4 Stargardt’s disease and congenital stationary night blindness. (4) Developing gene therapies for diseases associated with defects in retinal bipolar cells. Using novel serotypes identified in her other research aims, her lab is investigating the ability to specifically target therapeutic genes to ON bipolar cells and restore retinal function to models of bipolar-mediated disease such as Congenital Stationary Night Blindness (CSNB).
Dr. Boye’s memberships in professional societies include the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT). She currently serves as PI, Co-PI or Co-Investigator on several federally as well as privately funded grants and is actively involved in the University of Florida’s teaching mission. She is also actively engaged in community outreach and is a highly sought after speaker at patient-oriented conferences. Her real passion is interfacing with those affected by the diseases she studies and educating these individuals about treatment options and ongoing research to develop future treatments. For her efforts, she recently received the 2014 Exemplary Teacher Award from UF’s College of Medicine. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts and textbook chapters, is actively involved in grant and manuscript review, recently graduated from the NIH Early Career Reviewer (ECR) program and is the recipient of the 2013 ARVO Foundation/Merck Innovative Ophthalmology Research Award in Gene Therapy and Eye Disease. in 2015, she became the youngest recipient of the Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Director’s Award for excellence in gene therapy research.
When she is not in the lab or typing up manuscripts/grant applications in her office, Dr. Boye enjoys spending time with her husband (which is sort of like being in the lab!) and two young children. She wishes she could describe really exciting activities that she immerses herself in during her off time (cullinary arts, sailing, underwater basket weaving etc), but freely admits that her downtime is happily spent doing laundry, packing lunches and doing more laundry!