Gülgün Tezel, MD

Profile Headshot


Gülgün Tezel, MD, obtained her medical degree, completed her ophthalmology residency in Turkey, and began her career as a glaucoma clinician in 1989. Her devotion to better understanding and treatment of glaucoma led Dr. Tezel to leave her clinical practice to join a research team at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, in 1994. In 1999, she joined the Research Faculty there. Dr. Tezel established her laboratory at the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY, in 2002. In 2014, Tezel Lab was transferred to the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia University in New York, NY.

Building on her background as a glaucoma clinician, Dr. Tezel has three decades of experience in glaucoma research by directing multiple projects with NIH/NEI funding and funding from other sources.  

Through the studies of in vitro and in vivo experimental models of glaucoma, her laboratory has analyzed distinct molecular responses and interactions of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and glial cells to identify pathogenic processes, new treatment targets, and biomarkers of glaucomatous neurodegeneration. Dr. Tezel’s work resulted in over a hundred scientific publications illuminating various aspects of glaucoma.

Dr. Tezel has been invited to numerous national and international meetings to present her work, organize symposiums, or chair glaucoma sessions. She has received many professional awards, including the Research to Prevent Blindness Sybil B. Harrington Scholars Award, the World Glaucoma Association Potential Future Impact Award, Robert W. Rounsavall Jr. Family Foundation Glaucoma Research Award, Homer McK. Rees Scholarship in Glaucoma Research, and the AR and JR Peacock Trust Research Award. In addition, Dr. Tezel is the Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (FARVO, Class of 2016). Dr. Tezel has served on several national and international grant review panels, including NIH/NEI study sections. She is currently a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Glaucoma Foundation. Dr. Tezel also currently serves on the Editorial Board of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the Editorial Advisory Board of the Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, and the International Advisory Board of the European Eye Research.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Ophthalmic Sciences (in Ophthalmology)

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MD, 1983 Hacettepe Univ (Ankara,Turkey)
  • Internship: 1983 Hacettepe Univ (Ankara,Turkey)
  • Residency: Numune Hospital (Ankara, Turkey)
  • Fellowship: Washington University - St. Louis MO

Honors & Awards

  • 2022 The Charles Dwight Townes Memorial Lectureship, University of Louisville, Kentucky Lions Eye Center
  • 2015 Present Fellow of ARVO (FARVO, Class of 2016)
  • 2015 The Peacock Trust Research Award
  • 2015 The Thomas and Anne D. Cooper Lectureship, Storm Eye Institute
  • 2014 Homer McK. Rees Scholarship in Glaucoma Research
  • 2013 Robert W. Rounsavall Jr. Family Foundation Glaucoma Research Award
  • 2012 The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Appreciation for Service on the IOVS Editorial Board 2007-2012
  • 2010 Robert W. Rounsavall Jr. Family Foundation Glaucoma Research Award
  • 2010 Distinguished Lectureship to Honor Dr. Joseph and Mable Meites at Michigan State University
  • 2008 World Glaucoma Association Potential Future Impact Award
  • 2008 Selection to organize The Fourth Annual Conference of the ARVO/Pfizer Ophthalmics Research Institute “The Role of Glia, Mitochondria, and the Immune System in Glaucoma”
  • 2005 Louisville Science Center Kentucky Health Education Rural Outreach Scientist (KY- H.E.R.O.S.) Award
  • 2004 Research to Prevent Blindness Sybil B. Harrington Scholars Award
  • 2003 Pfizer Research Award
  • 2000 World Glaucoma Association Top-Ten Recognition
  • 1998 ARVO/National Eye Institute Travel Award



  • Modulation of Neuroinflammation in Glaucoma
    October 21, 2022 – April 30, 2026
  • Regulation of Glia-Driven Neuroinflammation in Glaucoma 
    May 1, 2018 – April 30, 2023
  • Ocular Hemodynamics in Rat Model of Glaucoma
    May 1, 2018 – April 30, 2022
    Co-Investigator (PI: Ronald Silverman)
  • Oxidative Stress in Neurodegeneration & Neuroprotection in Glaucoma
    April 1, 2015 – March 31, 2018
  • Autophagy in Neurodegeneration and Neuroinflammation in Glaucoma
    Glaucoma Research Foundation-Shaffer Grant
    March 1, 2017 – February 28, 2018
  • Molecular Biomarkers of Glaucoma
    Glaucoma Research Foundation-Shaffer Grant
    March 1, 2015 – February 29, 2016                   
  • Pathogenesis of Glaucomatous Optic Nerve Damage
    September 1, 2012 – August 31, 2015
    Consortium PI (PI: Harry A. Quigley)
  • Proteomic Analysis of Retinal Ganglion Cell Death in Glaucoma
    February 1, 2007 – November 30, 2012
  • TNF-α in Cell Death & Neuroprotection in Glaucoma
    August 1, 2003 – July 31, 2013
  • A Real Time Monitoring System for IOP in Glaucoma
    April 1, 2003 – March 31, 2008
    Co-Investigator (PI: Douglas J. Jackson/John F. Naber)
  • Na, K-ATPase Studies on Optic Nerve Head Astrocytes
    September 1, 2004 – August 31, 2009
    Co-Investigator (PI: Nicholas A. Delamere)
  • Signaling Cascades Determining Cell Fate in Glaucoma
    American Health Assistance Foundation
    July 1, 2002 – June 30, 2003
  • Heat Shock Protein 27 in the Neuroprotection of Retinal Ganglion Cells
    Glaucoma Research Foundation
    January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2001                    
  • Inhibition of Caspase Activity in Retinal Ganglion Cell Apoptosis
    The Glaucoma Foundation
    August 1, 2000 – July 31, 2001 

Selected Publications

  • Tezel G. Molecular regulation of neuroinflammation in glaucoma: Current knowledge and the ongoing search for new treatment targets. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2022;87:100998. PMID: 34348167
  • Yang X, Zeng Q, Tezel G. Regulation of distinct caspase-8 functions in retinal ganglion cells and astroglia in experimental glaucoma. Neurobiol Dis. 2021;150:105258. PMID: 33434617
  • Aydin R, Baris M, Engin CD, Al-Aswad L, Blumberg DM, Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM, Tezel TH, Tezel G. Early localized alterations of the retinal inner plexiform layer in association with visual field worsening in glaucoma patients. PLOS ONE. 2021;16:e0247401. PMID: 33630899
  • Tezel G. Multifactorial pathogenic processes of retinal ganglion cell degeneration in glaucoma towards multi-target strategies for broader treatment effects. Special Issue “Retinal Ganglion Cell Neuroprotection: Approaches to the Treatment of Optic Neuropathies”. Cells. 2021;10:1372-1399.PMID: 34199494
  • Yang X, Zeng Q, Baris M, Tezel G. Transgenic inhibition of astroglial NF-κB restrains the neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative outcomes of experimental mouse glaucoma. J Neuroinflammation. 2020;17:252. PMID: 32859212
  • Tezel G. A broad perspective on the molecular regulation of retinal ganglion cell degeneration in glaucoma. Special Issue “Glaucoma: A Neurodegenerative Disease of the Retina and Beyond”. Prog Brain Res. 2020;256:49-77. PMID: 32958215
  • Yang X, Zeng Q, Goktas E, Gopal K, Al-Aswad L, Blumberg D, Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM, Suh LH, Trief D, Tezel G. T-lymphocyte subset distribution and activity in patients with glaucoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2019;60:877-888. PMID: 30821813
  • Hondur G, Göktas E, Yang X, Al-Aswad L, Auran JD, Blumberg DM, Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM, Suh LH, Trief, Tezel G. Oxidative stress-related molecular biomarker candidates for glaucoma.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017;58:4078-4088. PMID: 28820925 
  • Yang X, Hondur G, Tezel G. Antioxidant treatment limits neuroinflammation in glaucoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016;57:2344-2354. PMID: 27127934
  • Yang X, Hondur G, Li M, Cai J, Klein JB, Kuehn MH, Tezel G. Proteomics analysis of molecular risk factors in the ocular hypertensive human retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015;56:5816-5830.  PMID: 26348630
  • Tezel G. A decade of the proteomics studies of glaucomatous neurodegeneration. Special Issue “Proteomics and the Eye”. Proteomics Clin Appl. 2014;8:154-167. PMID: 24415558
  • Tezel G. A proteomics view of the molecular mechanisms and biomarkers of glaucomatous neurodegeneration. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2013;35:18-43. PMID: 23396249
  • Tezel G, Yang X, Luo C, Cai J, Powell DW. An astrocyte-specific proteomic approach to inflammatory responses in experimental rat glaucoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012;53:4220-4233. PMID: 22570341
  • Tezel G, Thornton IL, Tong MG, Luo C, Yang X, Cai J, Powell DW, Soltau JB, Liebmann JM, Ritch R. Immunoproteomic analysis of potential serum biomarker candidates in human glaucoma.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012;53:8222-8231. PMID: 23150628
  • Yang X, Luo C, Cai J, Powell DW, Yu D, Kuehn MH, Tezel G. Neurodegenerative and inflammatory pathway components linked to TNF-α/TNFR1 signaling in the glaucomatous human retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011;52:8442-8454. PMID: 21917936
  • Luo C, Yang X, Kain AD, Powell DW, Kuehn MH, Tezel G. Glaucomatous tissue stress and the regulation of immune response through the toll-like receptor signaling. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010;51:5697-5707. PMID: 20538986
  • Tezel G, Yang X, Luo C, Kain AD, Powell DW, Kuehn MH, Kaplan HJ. Oxidative stress and the regulation of complement activation in human glaucoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010;51:5071-5082. PMID: 20484586
  • Tezel G, Yang X, Luo C, Cai J, Kain AD, Powell DW, Kuehn MH, Pierce WM. Hemoglobin expression and regulation in glaucoma: insights into retinal ganglion cell oxygenation. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008;51:907-919. PMID: 19741249
  • Yang X, Luo C, Cai J, Pierce WM, Tezel G. Phosphorylation-dependent interaction with 14-3-3 regulates Bad trafficking in retinal ganglion cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008;49:2483-2494. PMID: 18296656
  • Wax MB, Tezel G, Yang J, Peng G, Patil RV, Agarwal N, Sappington RM, Calkins DJ. Induced autoimmunity to heat shock proteins elicits glaucomatous loss of retinal ganglion cell neurons via activated T cell-derived Fas-ligand. J Neurosci.  2008;28:12085-12096. PMID: 19005073
  • Tezel G. TNF-α signaling in glaucomatous neurodegeneration. Research series: "Glaucoma: An Open-Window to Neurodegeneration and Neuroprotection”. Prog Brain Res. 2008;173:409-421. PMID: 18929124
  • Tezel G, Yang X, Luo C, Peng Y, Sun SL, Sun D. Mechanisms of immune system activation in glaucoma: Oxidative stress stimulates antigen presentation by the retina and optic nerve head glia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007;48:705-714. PMID: 17251469
  • Tezel G, Yang X, Cai J. Proteomic identification of oxidatively modified retinal proteins in a chronic pressure-induced rat model of glaucoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005;46:3177-3187.  PMID: 16123417
  • Tezel G, Yang X, Yang J, Wax MB. Role of tumor necrosis factor receptor-1 in the death of retinal ganglion cells following optic nerve crush injury in mice. Brain Res. 2004;996:202-212. PMID: 14697498
  • Tezel G, Yang X. Caspase-independent component of retinal ganglion cell death, in vitro. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004;45:4049-4059. PMID: 15505055
  • Tezel G, Hernandez MR, Wax MB.  In vitro evaluation of reactive astrocyte migration, a component of tissue remodeling in glaucomatous optic nerve head.  Glia. 2001;34:178-189. PMID: 11329180
  • Tezel G, Wax MB. Increased production of TNF-α by glial cells exposed to simulated ischemia or elevated hydrostatic pressure induces apoptosis in co-cultured retinal ganglion cells. J Neurosci. 2000;20:8693-8700. PMID: 11102475 
  • Tezel G, Wax MB. The mechanisms of hsp27 antibody-mediated apoptosis in retinal cells. J Neurosci. 2000;20:3552-3562. PMID: 10804196
  • Tezel G, Seigel GM, Wax MB. Autoantibodies to small heat shock proteins in glaucoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1998;39:2277-2287. PMID: 9804136