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ISER Eyes on the World -- Newsletter from the International Society for Eye Research
Volume 4, Issue 3 / Summer 2014
President's Message · Secretary's Message · ISER 2014 Biennial Meeting · Lab Profile
Steven J. Fliesler, PhD

President's Message

At this writing, the ISER XXI Biennial Meeting in San Francisco is only about a week away, the program has been finalized, and I’ve been hearing a lot of positive “buzz” from fellow ISER members in anticipation of attending the meeting. This promises to be one of the best ISER meetings in the past decade, and the venue for the meeting (the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in downtown San Francisco--  “The City by the Bay”) could not be better.  There will be 6-9 concurrent, topically-organized platform sessions ongoing in each two-hour time block, with 5-6 speakers per topical session, 78 platform sessions in total over the four-day course of the meeting, plus three poster sessions and four plenary award lectures. The platform sessions are organized by Section:  Cornea and Ocular Surface; Glaucoma; Lens; Ocular Imaging; Ocular Immunology; Physiology and Pharmacology; Retinal Cell Biology; Retinal Neuroscience and Development; and RPE Biology and Pathology.  In addition, there will be three Joint Sessions, covering the broad, multidisciplinary topics of ion channels in eye disease, RPE and photoreceptor biology, and the “new concept” of the blood-aqueous barrier. With over 730 registered attendees so far, nearly a quarter of whom have student or Young Investigator status, from 37 countries, this meeting exemplifies what ISER Biennial Meetings are all about:  a small-sized gathering of international participants in an intimate setting, with a focus on facilitating and promoting the careers and highlighting the research of Young Investigators in multiple disciplines under the unifying umbrella of eye research.
In my message in the March 2014 issue of this newsletter, I had announced the winners of the Endre A. Balazs Prize (Patricia A. D’Amore, PhD, MBA), the Ernst H. Bárány Prize (Thomas  Yorio, PhD), and the Retina Research Foundation’s Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research (Robert E. Marc, PhD). It is now my great pleasure to announce the name of the recipient of the 2014 Ludwig von Sallmann Prize: Christine A. Curcio, PhD, from the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.  This prize is given to honor the legacy of Dr. Ludwig von Sallmann, who was a distinguished ophthalmologist and researcher of international reputation, and is presented every two years at the ISER Biennial Meeting to an individual who has distinguished himself or herself by a making a significant contribution to vision research and ophthalmology. Dr. Curcio is a sterling example of this ideal:  she has devoted her life to providing a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that underlie normal as well as pathological aging of the retina, the latter particularly as regards age-related macular degeneration. All four awardees will be presenting formal plenary lectures at the upcoming Biennial Meeting.  Please check the program for dates, times, and locations for these award lectures.
View Program »
I’m extremely happy to announce that ISER has been able to fund 26 Travel Awards to facilitate the participation and attendance of Young Investigators at the Biennial Meeting. In addition, BrightFocus Foundation has generously provided additional funding for five awards, specifically to support Young Investigators engaged in research involving glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration studies.  Also, two Bettelheim Travel Awards will be given this year, specifically for Young Investigators engaged in lens research, with funds provided by the National Foundation for Eye Research.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our corporate sponsors for their generous support of the Biennial Meeting: Abbott Medical Optics (AMO), BrightFocus Foundation, Wolters Kluwer, and the National Foundation for Eye Research.  Special thanks to AMO for again underwriting the funding of the Endre A. Balazs Prize.
Finally, as in my prior columns, I encourage all lab heads to consider submitting a Lab Profile. [For examples, see prior issues of this Newsletter.] This is a great vehicle for advertising the research your lab does, as well as for recruiting new students, postdocs, and staff.  If interested, please send your lab profile information to:
Steven J. Fliesler, PhD
ISER President

Secretary's Message



An inaugural WISER function is being planned for our San Francisco ISER meeting. What is WISER you ask? Well it consists of the “WISER” half of the ISER membership........Just a play on words. ARVO has WEAVR, so the Executives of ISER felt it’s time for us to have WISER, The Women of ISER. WISER will have similar goals to WEAVR, to further develop and strengthen the career paths of women in eye and vision research, but will consist of ISER’s female conference attendees and members.
A small function room has been reserved at the OSHA Thai Restaurant located at 4 Embarcadero Center, Ground Level at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, July 23rd. This is walking distance from the Hyatt Embarcadero. Space is limited so please indicate your intention to attend by emailing me at It will be a shared/split bill for the food with people buying their own drinks.
So far in attendance, we have Pat D'Amore (2014 ISER Awardee), Justine Smith (ARVO Immediate Past President), Chris McGahan (ISER Treasurer), and me, Tailoi Chan-Ling (ISER Secretary).
This will be an informal event, providing an opportunity to share a meal and discuss what activities WISER can initiate in coming years. You MUST indicate your attendance by emailing me in advance of the meeting, or letting the registration staff onsite know upon your arrival. We encourage our young investigator attendees and the young at heart to join.  Hope to see you there!


In the lead up to our San Francisco meeting, I would like to send a gentle reminder that attendance at the ISER meeting provides a wonderful opportunity to meet with potential mentors and to refresh acquaintances. Please take a look at the ISER Mentor Program and consider emailing a Mentor if you would like an opportunity to meet with them face to face. 
Tailoi Chan-Ling, PhD
ISER Secretary

XXI Biennial Meeting



We are looking forward to welcoming you to this sophisticated, charming and eclectic city!
Don’t miss your chance to experience all of the amazing sights and sounds of the San Francisco Bay Area during your stay.
Check out what our tour partner, Tower Tours, has to offer and enjoy a $5 discount on any tour. Simply use the discount code, ISER ATTENDEE, in the notes/comment section when making your reservation or tell the operator the code when making a reservation by telephone.
Still not ready to book a tour? Don’t worry. Tower Tours will have a tour desk onsite in the Meeting Registration Area.
Book your tour now »
Visit the ISER Biennial Meeting Website to view other tour options and discount offers.

Lab Profile

Gerard “Jerry” Lutty Lab, Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital
Lutty Lab from left to right: Scott McLeod, Rhonda Grebe, Imran Bhutto, Malia Edwards, Jerry Lutty, Katie ho, Masa Nakanishi, Brian McGuire.
I am an experimental pathologist who has broad reaching interests from blood vessel development in the eye to the desmise of the vasculatures in the vaso-obliterative stage of oxygen-induced retinopathy, diabetic and sickle cell retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.  My lab’s studies on vascular development demonstrated that the initial human retinal vasculature develops by vasculogenesis, differentiation and organization of vascular precursors (angioblasts), rather than angiogenesis (sprouting from existing blood vessels). We have isolated and grown these precursors in vitro and demonstrated their multipotency, i.e. that they can become endothelial cells or pericytes.  My lab has also found that human choroidal vasculature and fetal vasculature in vitreous develop by hemo-vasculogenesis: the formation of blood vessels and blood cells from a common precursor, the hemangioblast. The Lutty lab is working on harnessing the potential of hemangioblasts and angioblasts differentiated from cord blood iPS cells, to repopulate dying retinal blood vessels. Our recent paper in Circulation was a collaboration with Elias Zambidis in the Institute of Cellular Engineering at John Hopkins, demonstrates their ability to make CD34+ blood cells into iPSCs and then train them to be vascular precursors.  These precursors engrafted on acellular capillaries in a model of ischemia reperfusion and remained there for 45 days at least. These vascular progenitors have the potential to repopulate acellular capillaries in diabetic retinopathy, which is work in progress.
My lab has also contributed substantially to our understanding of vaso-occlusive and vasoproliferative stages in diabetic retinopathy. We have demonstrated that vaso-occlusion occurs in the diabetic choroid as well as in retina and there is four times greater loss of choriocapillaris in diabetics than in older nondiabetic subjects. We demonstrated that endothelial cell/leukocyte adhesion molecules are upregulated in the diabetic choroid and retina and documented accumulation of neutrophils in diabetic retina and choroid associated with sites of capillary loss. These studies suggested that neutrophils contribute to the vaso-occlusions occurring in diabetic retina and choroid. We have documented diabetic retinopathy in spontaneously type 2 diabetic obese monkeys and found similar pathologies and causes for vaso-occlusions in this animal model. In these monkeys, dyslipidemia and hypertension, risk factors for progression of diabetic complications in man, were significantly correlated with increase in neutrophils. This work suggests that diabetes is an inflammatory disease and its complications like retinopathy may be associated with leukocyte/endothelial cell adhesions molecules and leukostasis.

We have developed techniques to study the human choroid in two abd three dimensions that elegantly visualize and quantified intrachoroidal neovascularization, changes in diabetic choroidopathy, and most recently age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These observations have yielded new insights into the symbiotic relationship between retinal pigment epithelium and choriocapillaris and changes in this relationship in AMD. In dry AMD, we found RPE atrophy first and then choriocapillaris loss. In areas of RPE atrophy the choriocapillaris loses its fenestrations and becomes severely constricted, highlighting the contribution of RPE to choriocapillaris health and function. In wet AMD, we found that the choriocapillaris dies before RPE, perhaps causing RPE to become hypoxic and produce angiogenic factors that stimulate CNV. We have also demonstrated that three anti-angiogenic factors (PEDF, TSP-1, and endostatin) are reduced or missing in the RPE/Bruch’s membrane/choriocapillaris complex in AMD, making this complex vulnerable for formation of choroidal neovascularization, a hallmark of wet AMD. Currently we are investigating how macromolecules are transported by choriocapillaris to RPE cells and whether this changes in AMD.  Finally, other current AMD studies in the lab focus on the inflammatory cells of choroid and how they may contribute to AMD.
Gerard Lutty, Ph.D.
G. Edward and G. Britton Durell Professor of Ophthalmology
Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD
If you would like to submit a Lab Profile for a future ISER Eyes on The World issue, please email
Renew your ISER membership
EER -- Official Journal of ISER
Register Now for the ISER XXI Biennial Meeting
ISER Officers:
President – Dr. Steven J. Fliesler
Secretary – Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling
Treasurer – Dr. Christine McGahan
Vice-President (Europe) – Dr. Ernst Tamm
Vice-President (Asia-Pacific) – Dr. Takeshi Iwata
Vice-President (Americas) – Dr. Gerard Lutty
Copyright © 2014 International Society for Eye Research, All rights reserved.

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