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Vision scientists gathered to view and discuss posters
Vision scientists gather during the lunch break to share information and study research posters in the Learning Resources Center of Emory Eye Center.

May 25, 2016

Top Southeastern U.S. Vision Research Scientists Gather for Symposium on Retinal Degeneration

(ATLANTA) On May 18, Emory Eye Center co-hosted, with the Atlanta VAMC Center for Visual & Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR), the “AVRC Retinal Degeneration Symposium” on the Emory University campus. 

Retinal diseases are major sources of vision loss and can be devastating. The symposium focused on approaches to track vision loss during progressive retinal disease, gene defects that cause retinitis pigmentosa, effects of physical exercise on progression of retinal disease, and potential therapy for ocular trauma-induced vision loss.

The full-day seminar offered speakers, presentations, posters and the opportunity for collaboration for some 60 top Southeastern U.S. vision research investigators from Emory Eye Center, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the CVNR and others.  

The event was an ideal opportunity for members of the Atlanta Vision Research Community (AVRC) to gather and share information.  AVRC is a multi-institutional network of vision research scientists in the greater Atlanta area that provides support and scientific expertise for conducting vision research for individual, collaborative and pilot studies conducted by National Eye Institute (NEI) funded investigators and institutions. AVRC’s core facility is located in research laboratories at Emory Eye Center. 

The day’s packed agenda included the presentations: “Visualizing RPE fate in age-related macular degeneration,” by Christine Curcio, PhD, professor of ophthalmology, Eminent Scholar in Retina, and director of the AMD Histopathology Lab, University of Alabama School of Medicine (UAB SOM); “Loss of visual function following traumatic blast injury to the eye: mitigation by a small molecule BDNF/TrkB receptor activator,” by P. Michael Iuvone, PhD, director of Research and Sylvia Montag Ferst and Frank W. Ferst Professor of Ophthalmology, Emory Eye Center; “How best to track retinal function in diseases affecting the eye?” by Timothy W. Kraft, PhD, professor, Department of Neurobiology, UAB SOM; “Neuroprotective effects of physical exercise on retinal disease,” by Machelle Pardue, PhD, associate director for Scientific Projects, CVNR and professor, Georgia Tech/Emory Department of Biomedical Engineering; “The diversity of gene defects that cause RP: Structural & functional deficits in Cngb1 and Dhdds RP mouse models,” by Steven J. Pittler, PhD, professor of Vision Sciences, UAB SOM; and “Impact of exercise on quality of life and progression of disease in retinitis pigmentosa,” by Jiong Yan, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Surgery and Diseases, Emory Eye Center.

Posters, including top Emory Eye Center award winners that were presented at the May 1-5, 2016, Annual Meeting of The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), were on display and the subject of animated conversation throughout the day.

 “This was a great opportunity to focus interests on the work of scientists who can collaborate effectively in the southeast region of the country,” says John Nickerson, professor of ophthalmology and vice director of Research (Basic Science), Emory Eye Center. “In the future, we plan to expand the group to vision researchers from additional Southeastern U.S. institutions to include Vanderbilt, Duke, Florida State, the Medical College of Georgia, the University of Florida, University of Georgia,  the University of North Carolina and more.”

Dr. Iuvone, who helped organize the AVRC Retinal Degeneration Symposium, noted, “These interactions will surely stimulate cutting edge research to discover cures for multiple causes of blindness.”


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