Dr. Howard Petty

Howard Petty, PhD

Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
Office: 734-647-0384

Administrative Contact

Lindsay Self: 734-764-4182

Areas of Interest

Research Summary

Inflammation and cancer within the eye; role of glycolytic enzymes in signaling; regulation of reactive oxygen species; imaging tools, nanotechnology

Dr. Howard R. Petty's goal is to understand the mechanisms that drive chemical changes within the cell and how these mechanisms might be exploited to improve patient care. This work, for example, could lead to new ways of protecting the retina.

Many intracellular processes are influenced by chemical reactions involving the transfer of electrons among molecules (oxidation-reduction reactions), and these reactions represent a key pathway in health and disease. For example, these reactions have been identified in glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, to name just three. Astronauts report visual anomalies during space travel. Dr. Petty has proposed that cosmic and solar radiation, which cause oxidative damage, create microscopic pores in cells that interfere with signals underlying vision. Cancer is another example of the action of oxidation-reduction reactions in healthcare. Dr. Petty has been the first to develop a new test for predict cancer recurrences or non-recurrences by testing pre-invasive lesions. This work demonstrated that cancer recurrences require “metabolic platforms” – a novel organelle-like structure near the plasma membrane to carry out the chemistry required for invasion and metastasis. In the future, this test will be used prospectively to determine which patients will experience recurrences. Having established this tool, Dr. Petty anticipates that it will be used to identify which patients who require surgical removal of tumors (enucleation), and which can be treated with radiation alone.

Alexandra M. Kraft and Howard R. Petty (2020) Spatial locations of certain enzymes and transporters within pre-invasive ductal epithelial cells predict human breast cancer recurrences. Amer. J. Physiol.-Cell Physiol. Published online: 09 SEP https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00280.2020.


  • PhD - Biophysics, Harvard University
  • Postdoctoral - Chemistry, Stanford University

Published Articles or Reviews

Web Sites