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NAEVR Joins Vision Community in Developing Audacious Goals to Preserve and Restore Vision

NEI Director Paul Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. welcomes attendees to this meeting using “science, experience, and imagination to help shape the vision research agenda”
NEI Director Paul Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. welcomes attendees to this meeting using “science, experience, and imagination to help shape the vision research agenda”
On February 24-26, the National Eye Institute (NEI) held its Audacious Goals Development meeting. In welcoming the more than 200 attendees, NEI Director Dr. Paul Sieving, M.D., Ph. D. described this historic event saying, “This is a ‘do-it-yourself meeting’ with a theme of inclusiveness. By engaging representatives from every sector of the vision community, including clinicians, researchers, private funding foundations and patient advocates, as well as government scientists and regulators from various disciplines and even entrepreneurs, this meeting will help shape the NEI research agenda well beyond its five-year strategic plan.”

NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. describes NEI’s long tradition of leading in biomedical research to urge attendees to have a “bold vision for vision”
NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. describes NEI’s long tradition of leading in biomedical research to urge attendees to have a “bold vision for vision”
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. also spoke, urging attendees to “have a bold vision for vision” by relating NEI’s long tradition of leading in the biomedical research arena, including: working with the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to identify more than 500 genes associated with vision loss, which is one-quarter of all genes discovered to date; the successful human gene therapy trial for patients with Leber Congenital Amaurosis; and using embryonic stem cells that self-organize into a mouse eye cup as the genesis of an eye.

Discussion topics were built around the ten winning submissions from a pool of 476 entries that were selected through NEI’s Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation Challenge, a worldwide competition for compelling one-page ideas to advance vision science. During the judging process, more than 80 experts in the vision community narrowed the field to 81 final candidate ideas, while a federal panel of 13 government clinicians and scientists that was chaired by Story Landis, Ph.D. (Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NINDS) made the final selection. Each winner received a $3,000 prize.

The attendees participated in a series of six breakout sessions that addressed the following topics: aging and mechanisms of disease development and progression; molecular therapy at the gene level; systems approaches to disease analysis; molecular and functional analysis and imaging of ocular tissues in vitro and in vivo; regenerative therapies for ocular disease; and vision restoration by optogenetics, small molecules, and prosthetics. For each, a working group identified goals and their feasibility and implementation, which they presented to the attendees for discussion.

In thanking attendees, Richard Fisher, Ph.D., NEI’s Associate Director for Science Policy and Legislation who managed the Audacious Goals project, observed that this exercise enabled researchers to “look beyond the next R01” and to participate in “citizen science,” since NEI solicited ideas so broadly and globally.

Five NAEVR Board members participated, including Sally Atherton, Ph.D. (ARVO), Craig Crosson, Ph.D. (Medical College of South Carolina), John Dowling, Ph.D. (Harvard University), Sabri Markabi, M.D. (Alcon Laboratories/Novartis) and Peter McDonnell, M.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins), as well as NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky.

Left to right: Russell Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Washington School of Medicine); Dr. Sieving; Jeffrey Stern, M.D., Ph.D. (Regenerative Medicine Foundation); Yingbin Fu, Ph.D. (University of Utah); Robert Duvoisin, Ph.D. (Oregon Health & Science University); Janey Wiggs, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School); Julia Richards, Ph.D. (University of Michigan); Tonia Rex, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University); Steven Pittler, Ph.D. (University of Alabama at Birmingham); Dennis Clegg, Ph.D. (University of California at Santa Barbara); and Rajesh Rao, M.D. (Washington University School of Medicine)
Left to right: Russell Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Washington School of Medicine); Dr. Sieving; Jeffrey Stern, M.D., Ph.D. (Regenerative Medicine Foundation); Yingbin Fu, Ph.D. (University of Utah); Robert Duvoisin, Ph.D. (Oregon Health & Science University); Janey Wiggs, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School); Julia Richards, Ph.D. (University of Michigan); Tonia Rex, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University); Steven Pittler, Ph.D. (University of Alabama at Birmingham); Dennis Clegg, Ph.D. (University of California at Santa Barbara); and Rajesh Rao, M.D. (Washington University School of Medicine)
Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D. (University of Florida), co-chair of the “Molecular Therapy at the Gene Level” breakout session, leads a discussion
Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D. (University of Florida), co-chair of the “Molecular Therapy at the Gene Level” breakout session, leads a discussion
Left to right: Sanford Greenberg, Ph.D. and Peter McDonnell, M.D., both from Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. McDonnell is a NAEVR Board member.
Left to right: Sanford Greenberg, Ph.D. and Peter McDonnell, M.D., both from Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. McDonnell is a NAEVR Board member.
Left to right: Malvina Eydelman, M.D. (Director of the Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices within the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the Food and Drug Administration, FDA) and Earl Smith III, O.D., Ph.D. (University of Houston College of Optometry)
Left to right: Malvina Eydelman, M.D. (Director of the Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices within the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the Food and Drug Administration, FDA) and Earl Smith III, O.D., Ph.D. (University of Houston College of Optometry)
Left to right: Wiley Chambers, M.D. (Deputy Director of the Division of Transplant and Ophthalmology Products within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA) and Joan Miller, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School
Left to right: Wiley Chambers, M.D. (Deputy Director of the Division of Transplant and Ophthalmology Products within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA) and Joan Miller, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard
Medical School)
Left to right: Martine Jager, M.D., Ph.D. (Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands) and Craig Crosson, Ph.D. (Medical University of South Carolina), who is a NAEVR Board member
Left to right: Martine Jager, M.D., Ph.D. (Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands) and Craig Crosson, Ph.D. (Medical University of South Carolina), who is a NAEVR Board member
Left to right: Peter Wiedemann, M.D. (University of Leipzig, Germany), Rick Ferris, M.D. (NEI Clinical Director), and Paul Sternberg, M.D. (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)
Left to right: Peter Wiedemann, M.D. (University of Leipzig, Germany), Rick Ferris, M.D. (NEI Clinical Director), and Paul Sternberg, M.D. (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)
Left to right: Michael Kass, M.D. (Washington University School of Medicine) and David Epstein, M.D. (Duke University Eye Center)
Left to right: Michael Kass, M.D. (Washington University School of Medicine) and David Epstein, M.D. (Duke University Eye Center)
Left to right: Janine Austin Clayton, M.D. (Director, NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health) and Sheila West, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University)
Left to right: Janine Austin Clayton, M.D. (Director, NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health) and Sheila West, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University)
Left to right: Rohit Varma, M.D. (Chicago Eye and Ear Infirmary/University of Illinois), Paul Lee, M.D. (Kellogg Eye Center/University of Michigan Medical School), and Marco Zarbin, M.D., Ph.D. (New Jersey Medical School)
Left to right: Rohit Varma, M.D. (Chicago Eye and Ear Infirmary/University of Illinois), Paul Lee, M.D. (Kellogg Eye Center/University of Michigan Medical School), and Marco Zarbin, M.D., Ph.D. (New Jersey Medical School)
Left to right: Calvin Roberts, M.D. (Bausch+Lomb), Brian Hofland, Ph.D. (Research to Prevent Blindness) and Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D. (Joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence). Colonel Gagliano served on the federal panel that determined the winning submissions.
Left to right: Calvin Roberts, M.D. (Bausch+Lomb), Brian Hofland, Ph.D. (Research to Prevent Blindness) and Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D. (Joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence). Colonel Gagliano served on the federal panel that determined the winning submissions.
Left to right: James Chodosh, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School) and David Parke II, M.D. (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
Left to right: James Chodosh, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School) and David Parke II, M.D. (American Academy
of Ophthalmology)
Left to right: Carmen Puliafito, M.D. (University of Southern California) and James Fujimoto, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Left to right: Carmen Puliafito, M.D. (University of Southern California) and James Fujimoto, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)