Maria Edman has a background in biomedical research with a B.Sc in Medical Biology from Linköping University, Sweden, and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from Kalmar University, Sweden. During her graduate studies she focused on the regulation of secretion of tears from the lacrimal gland, particularly the role of the purinergic adenosine receptors. After receiving her PhD, she continued her work in lacrimal gland biology under guidance of Dr. Sarah Hamm-Alvarez at the USC School of Pharmacy. Her initial postdoctoral studies were focused on the vesicular networks responsible for protein secretion from the lacrimal gland. Dr. Edman joined the Roski Eye institute in 2015, as a research associate.
In recent years her research focus has shifted more towards Sjögren’s Syndrome, a systemic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in exocrine glands, including the lacrimal gland. Patients with this disease suffer from dry eye and dry mouth in addition to systemic symptoms including joint pain and fatigue. Although Sjögren’s Syndrome is the second most common autoimmune disease, affecting up to 4 million Americans, it is unfortunately an underserved disease, which is both hard to diagnose due to an overlap of symptoms with other autoimmune and dry eye conditions and a and hard to treat due to a lack of specific therapies. Utilizing mouse models of Sjögren’s Syndrome Dr. Edman has been exploring the tear protein composition and identified several proteins that have an altered abundance or activity in the Sjögren’s Syndrome mice compared to healthy mice. The potential of these proteins as diagnostic biomarkers for Sjögren’s Syndrome has been confirmed in Sjögren’s patients. In collaboration with Dr. Hamm-Alvarez and Dr. Mackay from the USC School of Pharmacy, she has been exploring several new drug delivery strategies of traditional immunosuppressing drugs that specifically target the lacrimal glands. These delivery systems may reduce the systemic toxicity of the drugs and make them more effective for Sjögren’s Syndrome treatment.
Dr. Edman’s primary research interest to increase the understanding of the interplay between the diseased lacrimal gland, the tears and the ocular surface, as well as identifying new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for Sjögren’s Syndrome and other dry eye conditions.