April 20, 2009

Expert in Graves' Eye Disease Joins U-M Kellogg Eye Center and Department of Internal Medicine

Research team looks toward treatment trials

Dr. Terry SmithANN ARBOR, MI - Terry J. Smith, M.D., an endocrinologist who has broken new ground in his research on thyroid eye disease, has joined the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center and Department of Internal Medicine. He will hold the Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professorship in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Dr. Smith has advanced the understanding of Graves' eye disease, or thyroid eye disease, and specifically the process by which it causes inflammation of tissue surrounding the eye.  Patients with this condition may experience severe swelling and bulging eyes, which, in advanced cases, can lead to loss of vision.  Dr. Smith plans to evaluate several promising therapeutic agents that he has identified through his research.

We are pleased to welcome Terry Smith, whose research discoveries have had a tremendous impact on a wide range of autoimmune conditions, including Graves' eye disease, says Paul R. Lichter, M.D., chair and F. Bruce Fralick Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Michigan. Dr. Smith's collaboration with our own expert faculty will set Kellogg on course to become the preeminent center for research and treatment of Graves' eye disease, he says.  

Dr. Smith and his colleagues have described in great detail the molecular mechanisms underlying this autoimmune disease process. Among Dr. Smith's seminal discoveries are the identities of antibodies that circulate and interact with specific receptors located in the orbital tissue of patients with Graves' eye disease.  This immunologic aberration also generates molecules that activate white blood cells and cells within the eye tissues in ways that perpetuate the disease, causing inflammation, increased fat accumulation, and scarring. These mechanisms are fundamental to the way in which the immune system attacks orbital tissue in Graves' eye disease.

Building on these findings, Dr. Smith and colleagues at the Kellogg Eye Center will investigate novel diagnostic methods and unique therapies to assess and interrupt the disease process, with the expectation of launching clinical trials in the near future.

Dr. Smith received his medical degree from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago and Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. He has completed fellowships in biophysics at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, and in clinical endocrinology at the Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago.  He comes to the U-M Kellogg Eye Center from the David Geffen School of Medicine at  the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served as professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Molecular Medicine at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Dr. Smith is the author of over 150 book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and has been awarded five patents for his research discoveries. He has been elected to the Orbit Society, is chief scientific officer for the National Graves' Foundation, and serves as reviewer for numerous scientific journals. Dr. Smith has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Veteran's Administration since 1983.  

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Written by Betsy Nisbet

Last Modified: Monday, 28-Mar-2016 13:25:48 EDT