Gislin Dagnelie

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology


Gislin Dagnelie, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is a native of the Netherlands, where he grew up in Rotterdam. From his father, a lung specialist, he inherited his interest in medicine, while the talents in engineering shared by many members of his mother’s family made him decide to approach medical research through the physical sciences. He received a master’s degree in experimental physics at the University of Groningen, and a Ph.D. in medical physics at the University of Amsterdam.

Since 1986, Dr. Dagnelie has been a member of the research team at the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, a division of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, directed by Dr. Robert W. Massof. The goal of this Center is to improve our knowledge of visual function in the healthy and diseased human eye, and to combine the results of this research with modern technology in order to help patients gain the best possible use of their remaining vision. Dr. Dagnelie’s responsibilities within the Center cover several research areas within this field: One of his projects, sponsored by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, aims at developing precise tests to measure vision in people with advanced eye disease; a second project, co-sponsored by the National Eye Institute and Office of Naval Research, studies the potential to convey visual information through a limited set of picture dots; these projects make use of vision enhancement equipment developed by Wilmer and NASA. On the low vision rehabilitation side, Dr. Dagnelie is managing a project using Medicare records to study the health effects of vision loss in the elderly. He is also studying the effects of nutrition on the progression of retinal diseases, in particular the effects of lutein (related to vitamin A) on retinitis pigmentosa, with sponsorship of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Outside the Lions Vision Center, Dr. Dagnelie is a co-investigator in two research projects aiming at restoration of retinal function in some diseases, under the direction of Drs. Mark Humayun and Eugene de Juan. The first of these seeks to develop a small implantable device to be placed over the retina, inside the eye; such a retinal prosthesis would electrically stimulate the retina in patients who have lost the function of their rods and cones, but who still have intact secondary retinal cells and nerve fibers that would send information to the brain. The second project seeks to preserve and restore the function of rods and cones through cell transplantation, again in patients whose retina can still send signals to the brain.

Outside his academic career, Dr. Dagnelie is an amateur vocalist and violinist, and is actively engaged in an organization promoting international understanding through youth exchange.

People often wonder about the pronunciation of the name Gislin Dagnelie: both parts are French, but a creative ancestor modified Ghislain to Gislin, so even the French do not recognize it as such. To pronounce the last name, think “Daniel Lee” (stress on “Lee”) with the two L’s contracted into a single one, and the “a” pronounced as in “past” but shorter.