Meet the team

Marcela Garita-Hernandez iPS Research Lab

Dr. Marcela Garita-Hernandez, PharmD., PhD  is a cell and gene therapist for inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) with a strong research background in stem cell biology and retinal differentiation. She has worked with stem cells from different sources since 2005 and evolved professionally along with the field of retinal differentiation from 2D adherent cultures to self-organizing 3D micro physiological systems such as the retinal organoid model. She pursued her PhD in cell therapy and regenerative medicine under the supervision of Shomi Bhattacharya at the Andalusian Center of Molecular Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Seville, Spain, followed by postdoctoral stages at the Institute de la Vision in Paris and the Institute des Neurosciences de Montpellier in France. Her primary objective is to unravel the mechanisms underlying photoreceptor cell death and retinal degeneration, with the ultimate goal of advancing novel genetic therapies.  In 2021, she became an emergent group leader at the Ocular Genomics Institute (OGI), dedicating her research efforts to the development and characterization of human disease models of IRDs. Her science combines pluripotent stem cell technologies, genome editing, optogenetics, and other gene therapy tools to modify retinal organoids and retinal pigment epithelial cells of human origin. Marcela is the director of the iPS Research program and a group leader at the OGI, directed by Eric A. Pierce

Selected Publications:

  • Sanjurjo-Soriano, C., Erkilic, N., Damodar, K. Hassan Boukhaddaoui,, Diakatou, M., Garita-Hernandez, M., Mamaeva, D., Dubois, G., Jazouli, Z., Jimenez-Medina, C., Goureau, O., Meunier I., Kalatzis, V. Retinoic acid delays initial photoreceptor differentiation and results in a highly structured mature retinal organoid. Stem Cell Res Ther 13, 478 (2022).
  • Garita-Hernandez, M., Chaffiol, A., Guibbal, L., Routet, F., Khabou, H., Toualbi, L., Riancho L., J., Sahel, J.-A., Duebel, Goureau, O., Dalkara, D. Control of microbial opsin expression in stem cell derived cones for improved outcomes in cell therapy. Frontiers in Cellular Neurosciences (2021) # Corresponding Author
  • Garita-Hernandez, M., Routet, F., Guibbal, L., Khabou, H., Toualbi, L., Riancho L., Reichman, S., Duebel, J., Sahel, J.-A., Goureau, O., Dalkara, D. AAV-mediated gene delivery to 3D retinal organoids derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2020) 21(3):994 doi: 10.3390/ijms21030994

Grant support

Knights Templar Eye Foundation Career-Starter Research Grants (2022-2023)

Knights Templar Eye Foundation Competitive Renewal Grants (2023-2024)

Contact information: