Marcus Toral received his bachelor's degree in Zoology and Neuroscience from Miami University in 2013 and was accepted into the University of Iowa NIH Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). He is working to complete his dual MD and PhD degrees and is currently finishing his PhD dissertation work at Stanford University in the lab of Dr. Vinit Mahajan.
Marcus Toral's research is focused on investigating the biochemistry, genomics, and proteomics of blinding eye diseases. Marc aims to identify new molecular targets and pathways in the eye to develop new treatment options for patients suffering from blindness.
Current Role at Stanford
Graduate Research Assistant
Honors & Awards
Award for Best Talk, University of Iowa Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine (Sep 2017)
Award for Best Poster Presentation, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Health Sciences Research Week (Apr 2017)
Award for Best Presentation by Predoctoral Trainee, FASEB International Conference on Calpain Biology (Jul 2016)
Award for Research in Ophthalmology, Best Medical Student Presentation, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Department of Ophthalmology (Sep 2014)
Education & Certifications
B.A., Miami University, Oxford, Oh, Zoology and Neuroscience (2013)
PhD thesis work in the Mahajan Lab, Stanford University
My work in the Mahajan Lab is focused on understanding and developing new treatments for inherited blinding diseases. Specifically, our work focuses on studying a particularly devastating form of inherited blindness called Autosomal Dominant Neovascular Inflammatory Vitreoretinopathy (ADNIV). Named for its clinical descriptors, ADNIV progresses through distinct pathological stages as it progresses, blinding individuals it afflicts.To date, there is no cure for ADNIV. However, the Mahajan lab is working to develop new therapies for ADNIV and other inherited blinding diseases. Uniquely, as the stages of ADNIV mimic more common retinal diseases--such as diabetic retinopathy, uveitis, and proliferative vitreoretinopathy--this work promises to be broadly applicable to the treatment of vision loss.
Work in the Mahajan lab has led to the discovery that ADNIV is caused by mutations to the gene CAPN5, which encodes the regulatory protease Calpain-5. Interestingly, our data indicates that Calpain-5 becomes hyperactive in the photoreceptor cells of the retina, over-processing its protein targets and leading to cell death and inflammation. My thesis work is focused on studying the proteins targeted by Calpain-5 in the retina, aiming to understand the significance of these pathways in photoreceptor health and disease, as well as to identify new therapeutic targets for blinding diseases. Additionally, I am involved in projects looking at Calpain-5 biology and biochemistry, development of new retina dissection techniques, and understanding the molecular basis for novel inherited eye diseases.
Palo Alto, California