Fawzia Bardag-Gorce, Ph.D.

Fawzia Bardag Gorce, PhD

Investigator, The Lundquist Institute
Associate Researcher, Department of Pathology at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA


Cultured autologous oral mucosal epithelial cell sheet is produced to reconstruct the ocular surface and manage corneal blindness

Research Description

The project aims to bring CAOMECS (Cultured Autologous Oral Mucosa Epithelial Cell Sheet) to the clinical practice to reconstruct the ocular surface of patients suffering from moderate to severe symptoms caused by trauma (i.e., blast) or eye diseases (i.e., Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency).
CAOMECS is an autologous multi-layered cell sheet produced by culturing oral mucosal epithelial cells obtained from a small biopsy of the patient’s buccal tissue. CAOMECS is subsequently grafted back onto the patient’s eye.
CAOMECS is a living cell sheet that presents numerous benefits. There is no dependency on the availability of healthy limbal stem cells, e.g., from the other eye, or the use of keratolimbal allograft from cadaveric tissue or living-related donors. There is an unlimited on-demand tissue supply. There is no wait for a donor, no need for histology match or lifelong immunosuppressant medication, and there are no foreign tissue rejection risks involved. The cells are delivered right to where they are needed. CAOMECS graft is designed to safely reconstruct the ocular surface, reduce pain/discomfort, restore visual function, and improve the patient’s quality of life.


  • PhD, 1999, Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, France

Recent and/or Significant Publications

Bardag-Gorce F, Oliva J, Wood A, et al. Carrier-free cultured autologous oral mucosa epithelial cell sheet (CAOMECS) for corneal epithelium reconstruction: a histological study. Ocul Surf. 2015;13(2):150-163. doi:10.1016/j.jtos.2014.12.003
Bardag-Gorce F, Makalinao A, Meepe I, et al. Corneal keratin aggresome (CKAGG) formation and clearance by proteasome activation. Heliyon. 2018;4(12):e01012. Published 2018 Dec 8. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e01012
Bardag-Gorce F, Hoft R, Meepe I, et al. Proteasomes in corneal epithelial cells and cultured autologous oral mucosal epithelial cell sheet (CAOMECS) graft used for the ocular surface regeneration. Ocul Surf. 2017;15(4):749-758. doi:10.1016/j.jtos.2017.05.010
Bardag-Gorce F, Hoft RH, Wood A, et al. The Role of E-Cadherin in Maintaining the Barrier Function of Corneal Epithelium after Treatment with Cultured Autologous Oral Mucosa Epithelial Cell Sheet Grafts for Limbal Stem Deficiency. J Ophthalmol. 2016;2016:4805986. doi:10.1155/2016/4805986
Bousquet-Dubouch MP, Nguen S, Bouyssié D, et al. Chronic ethanol feeding affects proteasome-interacting proteins. Proteomics. 2009;9(13):3609-3622. doi:10.1002/pmic.200800959