Nguyet Le

Loss of neurons is the key pathological feature of many retinal degenerative diseases that often result in permanent blindness. While there is currently no effective regenerative therapy to replace neurons, one of the most potentially promising strategies is through direct reprogramming of endogenous Müller glia into retinal neurons. Despite successful applications in vitro, in vivo implementation has been hampered by low efficiency. In our study, we present a highly efficient strategy for reprogramming retinal glial cells into neurons by simultaneously inhibiting key negative regulators. Our discovery of the near-complete conversion of glia to neurons demonstrates that there is no clear intrinsic barrier to glial reprogramming in the retina, further strengthening the feasibility of reprogramming as a viable therapeutic strategy for retinal degeneration. This work was done in Dr. Seth Blackshaw’s lab.

Questions & Answers

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?

As a Baltimore City high school student, I had the opportunity to conduct research at Johns Hopkins during my senior year. The experience of being immersed in cutting-edge research, receiving supportive mentorship and participating in a highly collaborative environment has solidified Hopkins as my top choice for pursuing graduate studies.


What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally? Do you have any connection with the particular award you received?

I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive the David Israel Macht Research Award. Dr. David I. Macht made numerous distinguished contributions to research and medicine, and I am inspired to continue his legacy as a graduate student.


What contributed to your project’s success?

I am grateful to my mentor Seth Blackshaw for his unwavering support and guidance. As my thesis adviser, Seth has given me freedom to explore scientific questions that are of my interest. His enthusiasm and excitement for research have inspired me to make the most of my experience as a graduate student at Hopkins. I also deeply appreciate Dr. Thanh Hoang, who has given me incredible scientific insights, guidance and support ever since I was a rotation student in the lab.


What thoughts do you have about Young Investigators’ Day itself, as a celebration of the roles students and fellows play in research at Johns Hopkins?

I think Young Investigators’ Day is an inspiring and amazing opportunity to recognize the scientific achievements of many talented researchers and celebrate all the science happening here at Hopkins.


What has been your best/most memorable experience while at Johns Hopkins?

The most memorable experience was the wonderful time attending conferences together with my labmates.


What are your plans over the next year or so? Graduating, looking for faculty positions, etc.?

I will be wrapping up my thesis project and hoping to graduate by early 2025.


Tell me something interesting about yourself that makes you unique. Do you have any special hobbies, interests or life experiences?

I enjoy drinking matcha and the traditional method of preparing it.