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Saumil S. Sethna, PhD

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery

Phone (Primary):


Education and Training



(if applicable)


Completion Date




Mumbai University, Jai Hind College, Mumbai, India




Mumbai University, Jai Hind College, Mumbai, India




Fordham University, New York, NY, USA



Cell and Molecular biology

Fordham University, New York, NY, USA



Cell and Molecular biology

University of Maryland School of Medicine, MD, USA


Post-doc fellow


Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology


I have long-standing interest in RPE, AMD, autophagy, and associated aberrant molecular pathways and signaling networks. Many of the proposed studies utilize immunofluorescence, immunoblotting based functional assays amongst others. My work as postdoctoral l fellow has won the extramural International Retinal Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship (2016-17), and intramural Research Excellence Award, Otorhinolaryngology (2020) and the J. Tildon Promising Neuroscientist and Community Services Award (2020).

I successfully applied for the extramural Loris and David Rich, MD Postdoctoral Scholarship from The International Retinal Research Foundation for calcium and integrin binding protein 2 (CIB2) project (June 2016-July 17). I showed that lack of CIB2, specifically in the RPE leads to age-related RPE pathology and secondarily affects photoreceptor function. Additionally, I won the visiting scientist best poster at the Johns Hopkins postdoctoral retreat in May 2016 for the same work. (PCT/US2019/044745: Modulation of mTORC1 Activity and Autophagy Via CIB2-RHEB Interaction).    

Further, I served as the President of the University of Maryland-School of Medicine postdoctoral advisory committee (UMSOM-PDAC; 2017-19). As the President I established the vision, plan, and function of the PDAC. We raised over ~$10,000 for the postdoctoral retreats and lead the annual retreats. I cultivated working relationships with the UMSOM leadership to better serve the postdoctoral fellows. I continue to strive to improve communication and collaborate with the Dean’s office to facilitate improved outcomes for postdoctoral training. We have started several innovative resources for postdoctoral fellows at the UMSOM and contribute to collaborate with upper management and various key allies in the Baltimore community. Further, I won the Postdoctoral Fellow Excellence in Service Award (2019).

I want to contribute to science in a meaningful way, cultivate professional relationships in the scientific community, and mentor young scientists while heading a successful independent research lab.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Age-related macular degeneration, retinal pigment epithelium, retina, inherited retinal degeneration, gene therapy

Highlighted Publications


  • Sethna, S., Zein, WM., Riaz, S., Giese, APJ., Schultz, JM., Duncan, T., Hufnagel, RB., Brewer, CC., Griffith, AJ., Redmond, TM., Riazuddin, S., Friedman, TB., Ahmed, AM.; Usher Syndrome type 1F Natural History in Humans and Mice, and Preclinical Evaluation of Retinoid Therapy in Murine Model; under revision
  • Sethna, S., Scott, PA., Giese, A., Duncan, T., Redmond, TM., Riazuddin, S., Ahmed, ZM.; Loss of CIB2 causes non-canonical autophagy deficits and visual impairment; bioRxiv doi:
  • Sethna, S., Xiaoying Jian, Sheikh Riazuddin, Paul Randazzo, Bernstein, SL., Riazuddin, S., Ahmed, ZM.; CIB2 regulates autophagy via Rheb-mTORC1 signaling axis; bioRxiv doi:
  • Yousaf, S., Sethna, S., Chaudhary, MA., Shaikh, RA., Riazuddin, S., Ahmed, ZM; Molecular characterization of SLC24A5 variants and evaluation of Nitisinone treatment efficacy in a zebrafish model of OCA6; Pigment Cell Melanoma Res., 2020; (
  • Nesmith JE., Hostelley, TM., Leitch, CC., Matern, MS., Sethna, S., McFarland, R., Lodh, S., Hertzano, R., Ahmed, ZM.,. Westlake, CA., Zaghloul, NA.; Genomic knockout of alms1 in zebrafish recapitulates Alström syndrome and provides insight into metabolic phenotypes; Hum Mol Genet., 2019; (doi/10.1093/hmg/ddz053/5373583)
  • Sethna, S., Chamakkala, T., Gu, X., Thompson, T., Cao, G., Elliott, MH., Finnemann, SC., Regulation of phagolysosomal digestion by caveolin-1 of the retinal pigment epithelium is essential for vision; J Biol Chem., 2016; (
  • Sethna, and Finnemann, SC. Analysis of photoreceptor rod outer segment phagocytosis by RPE cells in situ; Methods Mol Biol., 2013; 935:245-54 (

Awards and Affiliations

Honors and awards

  • Research Excellence Award, Post-Doctoral fellow, Otorhinolaryngology, UMSOM (2020)
  • Tildon Promising Neuroscientist and Community Services Award, UMSOM (2020)
  • Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures Life Sciences Intellectual Property Fund Grant (2020)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow Excellence in Service Award, UMSOM (2019)
  • Loris and David Rich, MD Postdoctoral Scholarship; The International Retinal Research Foundation (2016-17)
  • Fordham Alumni Dissertation Fellowship (2013)
  • Fordham GSAS Travel Grant (2012, 2013)
  • Fordham GSA Travel Grant (2012, 2013)
  • The Ludwig and Paula Altman Endowed Travel Scholarship (2012)
  • John McCloskey Summer Research Grant (2012)
  • The Kathleen O’Connell Tamburro, Ph.D., and Carlo H. Tamburro, M.D., Memorial Endowed Scholarship (2010, 2011)

Community Service

  • President: University of Maryland-School of Medicine postdoctoral association (2017-2019)
  • Vice-president: University of Maryland-School of Medicine postdoctoral association (2016-17)
  • Visiting Scientist Award: Johns Hopkins Postdoctoral Retreat (May 2016)
  • Board member of the biology graduate student association which actively focuses, by communicating with the faculty, on matters of classes, career development, advancing the biology program (2012-14)