Phillip S. Coburn, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Research, Department of Ophthalmology

Special Interests

  • Molecular pathogenesis of enterococcal ocular infections
  • Diabetes and ocular infections

Training

  • Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  • Postdoctoral Training, Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Ophthalmology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Research Summary

Endophthalmitis is a serious, sight-threatening infection of the posterior segment of the eye. The vast majority of cases result from intraocular surgical procedures. Over the past several decades, the number of post-operative endophthalmitis cases has risen steadily, owing to the increase in the number of invasive ocular surgeries performed. Filtering bleb-associated endophthalmitis results from the introduction of organisms into the conjunctival filtering bleb following a trabeculectomy. The frequency of this type of endophthalmitis has been reported to be as high as 10% of glaucoma filtering procedures, and is continuing to rise with the increase in use of the antifibrotic agents. The bacterium Enterococcus faecalis is responsible for 4 to 8% of cases of post-operative endophthalmitis and is frequently isolated from infected filtering blebs. These infections can represent a therapeutic challenge due to the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of E. faecalis. Our research involves the identification and characterization of E. faecalis factors that contribute to endophthalmitis.  Our research includes analyses of retinal function and the inflammatory response in eyes infected with E. faecalis strains that differ in the production of various virulence factors.  We are also studying the mechanisms involved in blood-ocular barrier permeability during infection, and the role of diabetes in bloodstream-to-eye spread of bacteria. Based on these studies, we are developing novel target-based therapeutics to be used with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, and surgical regimens in order to preserve vision during this blinding disease. Our research program provides instructional backgrounds, mastery of techniques, and publications in the areas of ophthalmology, microbiology, immunology, and vision neuroscience.

Funding Sources