mitch watsky

Mitchell Watsky, PhD

Professor, Department Cellular Biology and Anatomy
Research Lab: R&E Building CB2901
Phone: 706-721-9541; 706-723-0098
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Xiaowen Lu, PhD, Assistant Research Scientist
Zhong Chen, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow


Research interests of the lab include corneal wound healing, intercellular junctions, ion channel function, cell signaling, and bioengineering of an artificial cornea. We also have a long term interest in bioactive lipids. Stemming from our corneal wound healing work, research projects in the lab have broadened to include translational projects aimed at understanding initiation of fibrotic diseases throughout the body, including scleroderma (SSc) and pulmonary fibrosis, as well as research involving osteoporosis and markers of bone metabolism. The current primary focus of the laboratory is gaining an understanding of how vitamin D interacts with the cornea.


BS, Biology; Emory University, Atlanta Georgia
PhD, Physiology; Department of Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Wisconsin. Advisor: Henry F. Edelhauser, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow; Department of Physiology & Biophysics, Mayo Foundation, Rochester Minnesota. Supervisor: James L. Rae, PhD


University of Tennessee Science Alliance Faculty Award, 2001
Marta Marx Eradication of Scleroderma Award, National Scleroderma Foundation, 2005
ARVO Silver Fellow, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2010


Dr. Watsky is the advisor and founder of the Augusta University Karate Club.


U.S.Patent #6,645,715: Artificial Cornea. Inventors: Griffith M, Watsky M,


  • Liliom, K, Guan, Z, Tseng, JL, Desiderio, DM, Tigyi, GJ, and Watsky, MA. Growth factor-like phospholipids generated following corneal injury. Am J Physiol. 274 (Cell Physiol. 43): C1065-C1074, 1998.
  • Griffith, M, Osborne, R, Munger, R, Song, Y, Xiaojuan, X, Laycock, N, Hakim, M, Doillon, C, and Watsky, MA. A functional human corneal equivalent from cell lines. Science 286:2169-2172, 1999.
  • Wang, J, Carbone, LD, and Watsky, MA. Receptor-mediated activation of a depolarizing Cl- current by lysophosphatidic acid and sphingosine-1-phosphate in cultured corneal keratocytes. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 43:3202-3208, 2002.
  • Williams, KK and Watsky, MA. Gap junctional communication in the human corneal endothelium and epithelium. Current Eye Research. 25: 29-36, 2002.
  • Tokumura, A, Carbone, L, Yoshioka, Y, Morishige, J, Kikuchi, M, Postlethwaite, A, Watsky M. Elevated serum levels of arachidonoyl-lysophosphatidic acid and sphingosine 1-phosphate in systemic sclerosis. Int J Med Sci. 6:168-176, 2009.
  • Yin, Z, Pintea, V, Li, Y, Hammock, BD, Watsky, MA. Vitamin D enhances corneal epithelial barrier function. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 52:7359-7364, 2011.
  • Tokumura A, Taira, S, Kikuchi, M, Tsutsumi, T, Shimizu, Y, Watsky MA. Lysophospholipids and lysophospholipase D in rabbit aqueous humor following corneal injury. Prostaglandins and Other Lipid Mediators97:83-89, 2012.
  • Lin Y, Ubels JL, Schotanus MP, Yin Z, Pintea V, Hammock BD, Watsky MA. Enhancement of vitamin D metabolites in the eye following vitamin D3 supplementation and UV-B irradiation. Curr Eye Res. 37:871-878, 2012.
  • Lu, X, Watsky, MA. Effects of vitamin D receptor knockout on cornea epithelium gap junctions. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 55:2975-2982 2014.
  • Elizondo, RA, Yin, Z, Lu, X, Watsky, MA. Effect of vitamin D receptor knockout on cornea epithelium wound healing and tight junctions. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 55:5245-5251, 2014.