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ISER Eyes on the World -- Newsletter from the International Society for Eye Research
M. Christine McGahan, PhD

President's Message

Hello to all, 
I hope this note finds you all well. This has been a busy year for ISER. The Leadership of ISER held a Strategic Planning meeting at the ARVO meeting in April of this year in Vancouver, Canada. ISER has had two other Strategic Planning meetings in the past, one in 2000 and the other in 2011. I have attended all three meetings and have found them to be particularly useful and important for the governance and evolution of ISER. There are a number of initiatives moving forward, including a Mentoring program which is still under development and I hope will be ready in the coming months.
We continue to work on governance structure and activities, and I need to bring attention to the exceptional activities of the Council and Committee members who are all working as volunteers to ISER. There is an extraordinary level of commitment from this group and I am very grateful to them for this service. We have a great team.
At the Council and committee meetings conducted at ARVO, we actively worked on plans for our next ISER Biennial Meeting, which will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from Oct. 25–29, 2020. Dr. Olaf Strauss is working with Drs. Nicholas and Haydee Bazan, who are the local organizers, to plan this meeting. We hope to have sessions planned this summer and finalized in the fall. We also started a discussion of a location for the 2022 meeting, which will take place in the Asia/Pacific Rim region and is consistent with our usual rotation between geographical areas. 
Please also remember that we have the ISER/BrightFocus Glaucoma Symposium coming up October 23–26, which is sponsored by ISER and the BrightFocus Foundation. This symposium is entitled "Concepts and Breakthroughs in Glaucoma" and will be held at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The symposium organizers are W. Daniel Stamer, PhD; C. Ross Ethier, PhD; and Robert Nickells, PhD. There is an exciting line-up of outstanding leaders in the field of Glaucoma research who will be presenting their work.
This Society needs volunteers to run for office each year, to serve on our many committees and to offer opinions and ideas for the ISER Council to consider. I urge you to contribute to YOUR society.
Olaf Strauss, PhD

Meeting Liaison Report

A little bit more than three months to go before the opening remarks will welcome the attendees of the ISER/BrightFocus Glaucoma Symposium in Atlanta on Wednesday morning, October 23rd. Robert Nickells, Ross Ethier, and Dan Stamer have again put together a cutting-edge symposium under the title “Concepts and Breakthroughs in Glaucoma”. Highlights include the BrightFocus Glaucoma Fast TrackSM on October 23rd (chaired by John Morrison and Abbot F. Clark), the international line-up of plenary speakers and a full program with platform and poster sessions that address the latest glaucoma research. Registrations, which include admittance to the scientific sessions plus hotel rooms and meals, can be made at the early rates through August 9th, with late registrations available until October 1st. Please visit the website to register and to check for the upcoming detailed program.
A little bit more than 430 days before the next ISER Biennial Meeting in 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The local organizers, Haydee and Nicolas Bazan, will in short complete the list of sessions and their organizers. Along with this development I call on all ISER members to submit their proposals for sessions in topics Glaucoma, Lens, Cornea/Ocular Surface, Retinal Cell Biology, Ocular Immunity, RPE/Choroid, iPS Cells, Retinal Neuroscience and Development, Ocular Imaging, Genetics and Physiology/Pharmacology/Therapeutics. The session proposals with a list of potential speakers (confirmation not necessary) should be sent to me at so that I may forward them to the corresponding topic organizers.
ISER 2020 will take place from October 25–29, 2020 at the Buenos Aires Hilton Hotel. As in prior years, we expect to have more than 100 sessions. This time we will try to organize the sessions for certain topics in a way that there will be more time to visit Buenos Aires. Again, there will be support for young investigators with a large number of travel fellowships, poster prizes, and social networking activities. Please check the website, which will be continuously updated in the upcoming months:

Secretary's Report

Frank Lovicu, PhD, FARVO

This year has kicked off to a flying start with ISER powering forward with so much to offer our membership. As the incoming new Secretary, it has indeed been a busy year so far and I would first like to acknowledge Prof. Tailoi Chan Ling for her long service in this role over the last two terms. Having said that, Tailoi has agreed to continue to serve ISER, overlooking our WISER activities, and more pressingly she has been actively involved with Prof. Roy Quinlan (VP Europe) and our young investigator members in revamping our Mentorship program. We hope to have this program up and running in its new form very soon and we encourage all of our membership to consider taking full advantage of this scheme, learning from some of our very experienced volunteer mentors across the globe. ISER takes pride in our engagement with our members and we hope this will flourish even more with the establishment of our new Young Investigator Committee, headed by Dr. Nilisha Fernando. I have had a preview for what is in store, and I hope that you will be just as excited as we are when this is progressively released.
As we near the ISER/BrightFocus Glaucoma Symposium later this year, we are also heavily engaged in planning our next ISER Biennial Meeting, returning to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2020, for what plans to be an exciting program. Exciting because it is our membership that has a say in what we deliver. We have close to 700 invited speakers planned and look forward to you all joining us for this meeting. Thinking even further ahead, we are already in discussions and planning and hope to announce our Asia-Pacific host city for the 2022 ISER biennial meeting by this year’s end. Watch this space.
While I review our current Bylaws and update the many different roles and responsibilities of all our Committee chairs and members, it excites me to see the many new volunteers to our society. It is their contribution that has allowed ISER to grow and flourish over the years and we hope to see it grow even further with new ideas and initiatives from our members. We are always open to suggestions of what more we can do, and especially what we can do better. Please feel free to contact our Executive Council or Committee chairs with your thoughts, and even with any of your recent academic accomplishments for us to showcase in our upcoming newsletters. With that, later this year we will be sending out a call for nominations for three new ISER Vice Presidents to represent Asia-Pacific, Americas, and Europe. These are such rewarding roles and we would love to have you join our team.
Lastly, I would like to thank our members, especially our hard-working volunteers who make this society what it is, ably assisted by our extremely proficient staff, Amber Mendez and Erik Rosales at our office in San Francisco. We look forward to seeing you all soon at one of our meetings, as we travel the world together, sharing, promoting and advancing global eye research.

Young Investigator Report

Nilisha Fernando, PhD

Hello ISER Young Investigators! During the ARVO 2019 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, we had a series of exciting and productive meetings to develop strategies and plans for the next few years for ISER members, including our Young Investigators. I am pleased to announce the ISER Young Investigator Committee for 2019–2020: Tirthankar Sinha, Daisy Shu, Sandra Hammer, Ebrahim Aboualizadeh, Yannis Paulus and Joshua Chu-Tan. Together, we will be working on improving ISER’s communication with our Young Investigators, holding more social and networking events at conferences, and developing activities and resources to benefit our members. These improvements will enable our Young Investigators to get the most out of their ISER membership each year.
We wish to draw your attention to our new ISER Mentoring Program, with application details soon to be announced. This is a wonderful opportunity to be mentored by a leading vision researcher. The program will allow you to establish a strong mentor-mentee relationship through the course of this program, which is a unique and valuable opportunity for career growth and development at the early-career level. Applications will be opening soon for the first round of the program – I encourage you all to consider submitting an application to be a mentee once it is announced. Please keep an eye out for further details.
If you have any suggestions or feedback that may benefit our Young Investigators, please send these through to me for consideration by the committee (
Abe Clark, PhD

Fundraising Committee Report

We are in the process of obtaining sponsors to support our 2020 Biennial Meeting. The overall success of our meeting will depend on this fundraising. We truly would appreciate suggestions and leads from ISER members for potential sponsors.
The sponsorship prospectus for the upcoming Buenos Aires meeting in 2020 is now available. Please feel free to share the Prospectus with any of your educational and industry contacts.
Elena Semina, PhD

Membership Committee Report

The Membership Committee held a meeting during ARVO 2019 and discussed possible ways to increase membership numbers. A survey is being developed to explore what past and current members would like to see ISER offer to improve the value of membership. Please respond to the survey when received or communicate your ideas directly to Elena Semina, PhD, at
Steven J. Fliesler, PhD

Editor's Message

As of this writing (end of June 2019), we’ve received over 400 manuscript submissions, so are poised for receiving about 800 new submissions by end of 2019. The trend has continued with the majority of new submissions coming from the Asia-Pacific region, particularly from universities in mainland China. As has been the case historically for many years, the two sections of the journal that have been receiving the lion’s share of new submissions are the Retina and Vascular Biology Section (formerly just Retina) and the Cornea and Lens Section (formerly two separate Sections).
The Editorial Board of Experimental Eye Research met at the end of April in conjunction with the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting in Vancouver, B.C. (Canada). About 80% of the Editorial Board members were in attendance, in addition to Ms. Gail Rodney, representing the publisher (Elsevier). A number of pertinent issues were discussed, including changes to the Editorial Board structure and membership, the publisher’s report, issues pertaining to the electronic editorial management system (EVISE), updates on Special Issues and Review Articles, and pending changes in the relationship between Elsevier and several major universities worldwide. 
With regard to changes in the Editorial Board, the following Board members will be retiring from the Board imminently: Dale Gregerson (Section Editor, Ocular Immunology and Pathology), Jochen Graw (Executive Editor), and James Zieske (Executive Editor). On behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank each of them for their dedication and years of outstanding service to the journal. Michelle Callegan will be replacing Dale Gregerson as Section Editor. In addition, the following new Executive Editors will be joining the Board soon, with research interests and expertise most pertinent to the Cornea and Lens Section: Peter Lwigale (Rice University, Houston, TX, USA), and Kirsten Lampi (Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA). I anticipate that there may be some additional retirements and replacements by end of this calendar year. As part of my role as Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Eye Research, my goal has been to enhance the quality and impact of the journal, while also increasing diversity, particularly as concerns female representation and broadening global geographic representation on the Board.
I’m happy to report that the following Special Issues of Experimental Eye Research have now been completed and are available on-line: Role of Lipid and Protein Oxidation in Retinal Degenerations (Guest Editors: Steven J. Fliesler and Deborah A. Ferrington); and A Tribute to Martin Steinbach (Guest Editors:  Elizabeth Irving, Hiroshi Ono, and Esther Gonzalez). The following Special Issues are currently in progress and are expected to be completed by end of 2019: Ocular Genetics: A Tribute to R. Rand Allingham (Guest Editors: Michael Hauser and Yutao Liu); and The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System (RAAS) and the Eye (Guest Editors: Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka and Francine Behar-Cohen). A new Special Issue on stem cell research pertinent to the eye (Guest Editor: Wei Li, Xiamen University) is being created and will be receiving new manuscript submissions imminently. If you have an idea for a new Special Issue, or a new Review Article, please contact Deborah A. Ferrington, our Reviews and Special Issues Editor (email: A listing of current and past Special Issues may be found at
We are always interested in recruiting reviewers for papers submitted to the journal. If you are interested in serving as a reviewer, please contact me by email (, providing a short statement describing your areas of research expertise, background, and prior experience as a reviewer for this or other journals, as well as a copy of your current CV.
In closing, I will remind ISER members that one of the benefits of being an ISER member is that the usual fees for publishing color illustrations in this journal are waived. Potentially, this could save you a few thousand dollars (US) in publication charges.

Kudos to ISER Members!

  • Kevin Chuen Wing Chan, PhD and his team recently published an article in Progress in Retinal and Eye Research titled “Cholinergic nervous system and glaucoma: From basic science to clinical applications”.

  • The Meyer Stem Cell Research Lab will be moving to the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine this summer. Below are some of their recently published papers:

    VanderWall KB, Vij R, Ohlemacher SK, Sridhar A, Fligor CM, Feder EM, Edler MC, Baucum AJ, Cummins TR, Meyer JS (2019), Astrocytes Regulate the Development and Maturation of Retinal Ganglion Cells Derived From Human Pluripotent Stem Cells, Stem Cell Reports 12(2):201-12.

    Sridhar A, Langer KB, Fligor CM, Steinhart M, Miller CA, Ho-A-Lim KT, Ohlemacher SK, and Meyer JS (2018), Modeling Retinal Development and Disease Using Three-Dimensional Retinal Organoids Derived from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells, chapter within “Stem Cells as in vitro models of ocular diseases”, ed. Ballios and Young, Springer, pp 17-49.

    Fligor CM, Langer KB, Sridhar A, Ren Y, Shields PK, Edler MC, Ohlemacher SK, Sluch VM, Zack DJ, Zhang C, Suter DM, and Meyer JS (2018), Three-Dimensional Retinal Organoids Facilitate the Investigation of Retinal Ganglion Cell Development, Organization, and Neurite Outgrowth from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells, Scientific Reports, 8(1):14520.

  • Amanda Roberts, a PhD Candidate at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded the UNTHSC's National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institute of Health Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Fellowship in March 2019. She is earning her PhD degree in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in Visual Sciences at the North Texas Eye Research Institute. Her research mentors are Dr. Colleen M. McDowell from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Abe Clark from UNTHSC.

Featured Lab Profile

The research team at the Ocular Genetics Laboratory of Joan O’Brien, MD has extensive experience studying the genetics of retinoblastoma, uveal melanoma, and glaucoma. Our laboratory facilities include next-generation sequencing and high-throughput, automated Sanger sequencing capabilities, allowing us to conduct high-impact translational genetics research. We have specific expertise in molecular sub-classification and endophenotyping of ocular disease. Previously, our team identified numerous variants in the retinoblastoma gene, allowing us to offer genetic testing to retinoblastoma patients through the eyeGENE™ initiative. Today, we are conducting a large-scale genetic analysis on African Americans with primary open-angle glaucoma – the Primary Open-Angle African American Glaucoma Genetics (POAAGG) study. The POAAGG study seeks to understand the genetic structure of primary open-angle glaucoma in African Americans, and was funded in 2014 by the National Eye Institute. Thus far, the study has enrolled more than 10,000 African American patients from the Philadelphia community. Researchers are currently conducting a genome-wide association study and whole-exome sequencing to identify the genes involved in glaucoma in this population. In the future, this information will shed light on this population’s increased burden of disease, and pave the path to more screening and more targeted and effective treatments.
Visit our website for more information about the POAAGG study or Dr. O’Brien’s lab.
If you would like to submit a Lab Profile for a future ISER Eyes on The World issue, please email

Featured Eye Photo

S-100β + parenchymal and vascular astrocytes of the mid-peripheral retina

Name: Dr. Hussein Mansour
Institute: Developmental Neurobiology and Visual Sciences Lab, Discipline of Anatomy and Histology, Bosch Institute and Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia

Description: This specimen illustrates abundant S-100β+ astrocytes both in the parenchyma and on blood vessels in the mid-peripheral region of the aged Wistar rat retina. Triple label immunohistochemistry performed on retinal whole mounts demonstrated S-100β labeling astrocyte cell somas (green), GFAP expressing astrocytes (red) and GS Lectin staining for retinal blood vessels (blue).
Dyes Used: Antibodies against S-100β conjugated with Alexa 488 fluorophores was used to stain cell somas, GFAP conjugated with Cy 3 fluorophores was used to stain astrocyte intermediate filaments and GS Lectin conjugated with Cy 5 fluorophores was used to stain the blood vessels.
Equipment Used: Confocal microscopy was performed using a Leica TCS NT argon-krypton laser, mounted on a Leica DMRBE upright photomicroscope. The objective lens used was a Plan apo 40x oil/ NA 1.32-0.6/ WD 0.07mm. Alexa 488 fluorescence was excited at 488 nm, Cy3 at 588 nm and Cy5 at 647 nm. TCS NT software was used to capture the images.
Novelty: Astrocytes in the rat retina express calcium-binding proteins regulatory function of astrocytes in response to cell signaling, injury, and degeneration with CNS microenvironment.
Image captured in 2005, winner for international Olympus Bioscapes imaging competition.
Submit Your Photo

Administrative Update

Career Center

ISER members can post and view career opportunities on the ISER website. To request a career opportunity be posted on the ISER website, please email your request to the ISER Secretariat at Postings remain live for 90 days, or until the position has been filled. Visit the ISER Career Center for complete details.
Visit ISER Career Center

Lab Exchange Program

Several years ago, ISER launched an initiative called the ISER Lab Exchange Program. The purpose of this program is “to encourage and support students and young investigators entering the field of eye and vision research worldwide.”

The program is designed to facilitate exchanges of trainees, at any training level, between ISER member labs. By encouraging trainee exchanges, ISER helps trainees augment their skill sets, enable technology transfer among member labs, and expand the productivity of participating labs.

When Young Investigator members are interested in participating in this program, their supervising mentors collaborate and help facilitate sending their graduate students or postdoctoral fellows to the other’s laboratory. The laboratories assist with the associated travel and housing costs for their respective trainees. Upon completion of the program, participating trainees will receive complimentary ISER Biennial Meeting registration and a complimentary 2-year ISER membership. Their sponsors will receive one-half off of their ISER Biennial Meeting registration fee. Trainees will also be invited to present their collaborative research as either a paper or poster presentation at the upcoming meeting.

These inter-laboratory collaborations are extremely productive and successful! If you are a trainee or have a trainee that is interested in participating in this program, please contact the ISER office for more information.

Membership Dues

Please pay your 2019 membership dues, if you have not already done so. You can pay online using a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
Pay Dues Online
To pay by mail, please include your name and membership number on your check payable to ISER and send it to:
655 Beach Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Contact the ISER office if you have questions or need assistance.

In Memorium – John Trevithick, PhD

It is my sad task to note the passing of Professor John Trevithick, PhD, just before ARVO 2018 at his home in London, Ontario. John is well known to many ISER members since the early 70's as one of the first researchers who took up the lens as a model for cell differentiation. Tom Dzialoszynski, Earl Noble (Western University) and I, co-authored an abstract with John that was presented at ARVO 2019 in Vancouver. It was fitting for some of John’s last work to be part of the first ARVO meeting hosted outside the United States in his home country. It reminded me of attending the first ISER meeting held in Canada, Montreal, with John in 2010. As a pioneer in the explorations of cAMP in N. Crassa, John sought to explore this signaling molecule in mammalian cell differentiation. The lens epithelial to fiber cell transition continues during the entire life of the mammalian lens and this exquisite cell transformation caught John’s attention and sucked him right into vision science.
Along the way, John explored cataract mechanisms, but as a biochemist, he was always interested in the fundamental knowledge of cell physiology and biochemistry that awaited revelation. His lab was one of the first groups to optimize culture media conditions to permit the study of whole living lenses in tissue culture. This permitted the precise manipulation of external and internal chemistry and was used to correlate research with diabetic and RCS rat models. Interesting effects on the RCS lens posterior opacity caught his attention, where degeneration was occurring in the retina. Along with diabetic cataract models, his group explored the contribution of antioxidant biochemistry to degenerative processes in the lens and retina. Some surprising findings, of dramatically slowing cataract formation and other degenerations by supplementing endogenous antioxidants resulted in a Nature publication. I joined his lab in 1988 as a PhD student, at the University of Western Ontario. (Currently renamed to Western University.)
John took me, technologists, post-docs, and other students, to many meetings around the world and he spent a lot of time teaching us to repeat work and published reproducible data. He led us to write papers early and we tended to graduate with a few publications in hand. I got an education about the international nature of the vision-science when I was given an ISER meeting travel award for Stresa, Italy. John set up four weeks of travel for us to visit and talk around Europe and the UK. No travel agent, just John and his phone index, pre-internet, no Expedia. So as I learned to drive a stick in our little Renault Clio, we shared the driving starting from Amsterdam. I met many other ISER members on that trip. Names in so many papers in our bibliography sections: Gijs Vrenson, Netherlands; Yves Courtois, France; and scientists at Roche, Switzerland. I was probably more inspired than at any time in my life to think I just might be able to make a career as a vision scientist. Stresa was a pretty nice place for a research meeting. With John, I enjoyed discovering that the diabetic rat lens was iso-osmolar for several weeks by dumping taurine and free amino acids to perfectly balance the increase in sorbitol. Then this amino acid deficit led to the loss of GSH, ATP production, ion transport capacity, and finally the loss of fluid regulation. This was a lesson John taught many of us, that if you delve into the biochemistry of even an old model system, you might just find some new surprising knowledge. Surprises always await observation.

John retired as an Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and then spent the past decade as a Professor in Kinesiology, working to explore the effects of exercise on the eye in normal and diabetic rats, with Tom Dzialoszynski and Earl Noble at Western University. Most recently they spent the last several years on space radiation effects upon the lens. That work, funded by the Canadian Space Agency, involved trips to Vancouver and the use of UBC’s cyclotron. John was always curious to the very end and found ways to fund his vision research in Canada, without a vision-focused funding body like the NEI. That John managed to contribute so much to vision science for over three decades in Canada is a demonstration of his resolve that we should never let anyone talk us out of at least trying.
Without John’s influence, I am not sure I would have developed the tenacity to compete several post-doctoral fellowships and join the faculty here at Oakland University’s Eye Research Institute. Strangely, just a two-hour drive from Western University. Rather than reviewing John’s research contributions, I wanted to point out the best thing about John Trevithick that we should all try to emulate as his fellow scientists. Paying forward. Being good mentors to our students and post-docs, because we can never pay back all those mentors who helped us on our way. That will be one of John Trevithick’s legacies. He invested time in many of us and provided a good example of how to train the next generation of scientists. I am sure this was said before in academia, but I heard it first from John Trevithick “My graduate students are my future colleagues, so that is how I treat you, as a future colleague.”
We close this letter with a couple of notes from two of John’s long time research colleagues:
John was very kind to me when I was a young postdoctoral Fellow at Oxford, and attended ARVO meetings in Sarasota Florida each year for a number of years. We used to go to theatre restaurants with his research group, and then to the Aruba restaurant on the beach, which served the best key lime pie ever. He was a great friend. I miss him.

—Professor MJC Crabbe
Supernumerary Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford University
It is with great sadness that I learn of John's passing. I will always remember him as a passionate lens biochemist who would not hesitate to drive 2000 miles to Fort Lauderdale when research funding was tight. He was a no nonsense scientist who would put the data first and surprise everybody with the originality and novelty of his approach and the results. He profoundly influenced our understanding of the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of diabetic cataract with his landmark contributions on vitamin E and other antioxidants. His passing means the loss of a great friend and scientist. We in the lens community will miss him.
—Vincent Monnier MD
Case Western Reserve University

Ken Mitton, PhD
Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Tom Dzialoszynski, MSc
Western University, London, Ontario
ISER/BrightFocus Glaucoma Symposium · Oct 23–26, 2019
ISER 2020 · Oct 25–29 · Buenos Aires, Argentina
Call for Papers! AI in Ophthalmology and Vision Science · tvst Journal
ISER Officers:

President – Christine McGahan, PhD
Secretary – Frank Lovicu, PhD
Treasurer – Carol Toris, PhD
Meeting Liaison – Olaf Strauss, PhD
Vice-Presidents (Europe) – Roy Quinlan, PhD and Alan Stitt, PhD
Vice-Presidents (Asia-Pacific) – Choun-Ki Joo, MD, PhD and Takeshi Iwata, PhD
Vice-Presidents (Americas) – Elena Semina, PhD and Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD
Young Investigator Representative – Nilisha Fernando, PhD

Our mailing address is:
International Society for Eye Research
655 Beach St
San Francisco, CA USA 94109

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