eCommunication from the International Society for Eye Research
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ISER Eyes on the World -- Newsletter from the International Society for Eye Research
Volume 6, Issue 2 / Summer 2016
President's Message · Biennial Meeting · Young Investigator Representative · Membership Committee · Communications Committee · Eye Photo of the Quarter · Lab Profile ·  Obituaries ·  Administrative Update
John S. Penn, PhD

President's Message

A focus on meetings…

On April 30, 2016, the ISER Council met in Seattle, WA to discuss a variety of topics, including issues related our Society’s governance, membership, journal and meetings. Perhaps it is not surprising that discussion of ISER's congresses and symposia dominated the agenda. Indeed, over the next 26 months, ISER will host meetings in Tokyo, Atlanta and Belfast, and all of them promise to provide a combination of outstanding scientific exchange and fabulous networking opportunities.

First, the upcoming XXII ISER Biennial Meeting scheduled for September 25-29, 2016, in Tokyo is nearly upon us. The meeting’s local organizers are Professors Takeshi Iwata of Tokyo Medical Center and Takahisa Furukawa of Osaka University. They are partnering with our meeting management partners, K.I.T. Group in Berlin, to create the best possible experience for meeting participants. The meeting venue will be the beautiful Keio Plaza Hotel in the Shinjuku Business District of west central Tokyo. The meeting website, including the complete scientific program, can be found at
Professor Takeshi Iwata
Professor Takahisa Furukawa
Thanks to the generosity of foundation support, we will have a record number of travel fellowships available for young Investigators to join us in Tokyo and interact with world authorities. In particular, I would like to thank the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, who donated funding for an unprecedented number of travel fellowships. The BrightFocus Foundation and the National Foundation for Eye Research also contributed substantially to our travel fellowship program.

It is my great pleasure to announce the names of the recipients of the 2016 ISER Prizes and Awards that will be bestowed formally at the Tokyo Meeting. These awardees were selected from a robust list of exceptionally outstanding candidates:
  • Reza Dana, MD, MPH, MSc (Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School) will be awarded the Endre A. Balazs Prize

    This international prize is awarded to honor a distinguished scientist whose outstanding contributions provide significant progress in the field of experimental eye research, and is named in honor of Endre A. Balazs, MD, for his distinguished work in eye research and his seminal contributions to the creation of the ISER organization.

  • Lloyd P. Aiello, MD, PhD (Joslin Diabetes Center) will be awarded the Ernst H. Bárány Prize

    This international prize is named in honor of Professor Ernst H. Bárány, for his distinguished work in the field of ocular pharmacology, and it is presented to an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to research that has increased our understanding of ocular pharmacology directly related to or applicable to glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, or related retinal diseases.

  • King-Wai Yau, PhD (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) will be the recipient of the Retina Research Foundation’s Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research

    This award is presented on behalf of the Retina Research Foundation to honor the memory of Paul Kayser, a long-time friend and benefactor of the Foundation, and with the purpose of fostering greater awareness of the need for intensive study of the retina, its role in the visual process, and the retinal diseases that threaten and/or destroy eyesight, by recognizing outstanding achievement and sustaining meritorious scientific investigations worldwide.

  • Rosalie K. Crouch, PhD will be awarded the Ludwig von Sallmann Prize

    This international prize is presented on behalf of the Henrietta von Sallmann Trust and is named in honor of the distinguished international ophthalmologist and ophthalmic investigator Ludwig von Sallmann, MD. The prize is intended to recognize an individual who has distinguished himself or herself by making a significant contribution to vision research and ophthalmology.

Second, I am proud to announce that in October 2017, ISER will partner with BrightFocus Foundation to sponsor a symposium entitled “Molecular Basis of Glaucoma.” The meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 5-8, and it will be held at the Emory Conference Center Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The meeting organizers are Professors Dan Stamer of Duke University and Ross Ethier of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Professor Dan Stamer
Professor Ross Ethier
ISER and BrightFocus expect to draw 200 attendees to Atlanta for an intensive discussion of the concepts and controversies surrounding glaucoma pathogenesis. It is our hope that ISER can continue to organize “odd-year” meetings and, with the help of partners like BrightFocus, we believe this will become an added biennial fixture to the ISER meeting portfolio.

Third, the ISER Council has selected Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the XXIII ISER Biennial Meeting September 8-12, 2018. Professors Alan Stitt of Queen’s University in Belfast and Roy Quinlan of Durham University in the UK have agreed to serve as local organizers of the program. Please note that ISER members will be solicited for platform session topics in the summer of 2017.
Professor Alan Stitt
Professor Roy Quinlan
In all cases, the local organizers of ISER meetings are given complete autonomy regarding selection of platform session organizers and development of the scientific program, as well as great latitude in defining other aspects of the participants’ experience. It is hard, but rewarding, work. On behalf of ISER, I sincerely thank the six aforementioned individuals for their dedication to ISER and their efforts to create entertaining and informative experiences for the attendees of these three upcoming ISER meetings.

Finally, the search for a site for the XXIV ISER Biennial Meeting has begun. Keeping with our long-standing tradition of rotating ISER meeting locations throughout the world, the ISER Council will select a site in the Western Hemisphere to host this meeting, planned for the summer or autumn of 2020. Our last two meetings in this hemisphere were held in North America – Montreal in 2010 and San Francisco in 2014. Perhaps Central or South America will serve us well in 2020?

And last, I strongly encourage all ISER members to become actively involved in our Society – in its governance and committee structure, in the Mentoring Program (either as a mentor or mentee), in the Lab Exchange Program and/or in the development of programming for our meetings. We welcome your input regarding your needs as an ISER member and what additional features you would like ISER to consider offering to its members in the future. Please reach out to us with your suggestions via email at

I hope to see you all in Tokyo!


John S. Penn, PhD
ISER President

ISER XXII Biennial Meeting Update

Preparation for ISER 2016 Biennial Meeting in Tokyo, Japan…

The abstract submission process for the 2016 ISER Biennial Meeting in Tokyo, Japan has ended and the program committee is now finalizing the program with over 700 abstracts received. Over 110 oral sessions and three days of poster sessions are scheduled for this meeting. These sessions and posters include research areas of Glaucoma, Lens, Cornea and Ocular Surface, Ocular Immunology, Ocular Imaging, RPE Choroid Biology and Pathology, Retinal Cell Biology, Retinal Neuroscience and Development, Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and Ophthalmic Genomics. Eighty-five percent of the presentation will be by participants from abroad. Each speaker will have a maximum of 24 minutes for their presentation, which gives plenty of time for introduction and discussion. We strongly encourage young scientists to attend these sessions and enjoy the overview of the field as well as the latest experimental data.

The Welcome Reception will be on Sunday, September 25th at 7 p.m. at the Keio Plaza Hotel and the Gala Dinner will be on Tuesday, September 27th 8:00 p.m., also at the Keio Plaza Hotel. Gala Dinner tickets are selling fast. We recommend you purchase your ticket(s) now.

Each meeting day, an award ceremony will take place between 10:30 a.m. and noon, followed by lunch time until 1:00 p.m. On Monday, September 26th at noon, a lunch seminar sponsored by Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. will be held, with guest speakers Dr. Christine A. Curcio, Dr. Neena B. Haider, and Dr. Kaoru Fujinami. They will present their latest discoveries on macular related diseases.  

Keio Plaza Hotel, located at the Shinjuku district across the street from the Tokyo Governance Building, will be our venue. This is one of the most accessible areas in Tokyo with a number of restaurants, hotels, and department stores in the same location. From the hotel, Asakusa, Ginza, Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara, Ueno, Kamakura, Hakone, and Mt. Fuji are easy to access. A number of tours and attractions will be available during the meeting for you to experience Japan.

There are two international airports in Tokyo, Narita and Haneda airports. Haneda airport will be much closer to the venue. Both airports have shuttle services to the venue, but please check the times before purchasing your air ticket. Haneda airport is connected to all airports in Japan. Additional travel information is available on the ISER 2016 website.

The local organizers, Professor Takahisa Furukawa and myself, look forward to welcoming you all in September.

Takeshi Iwata, PhD
ISER 2016, Local Meeting Organizer
View ISER Biennial Meeting website »

Report from the Young Investigator Representative

Being an ISER member for the past ten years, I look forward to the ISER meetings every other year. I am especially excited for this year’s conference in Tokyo, Japan, as it is my first time visiting the country. As I reflect over memories from past ISER meetings, I remember the momentous opening nights, which were promising of subsequent days filled with intriguing science and collaborating with fellow colleagues. There are more than 700 delegates who attend the conference, which allows young investigators to evade the spotlight while preventing confusion amidst a big crowd. The conference begins with a welcoming from our President followed by a reception with friends, colleagues and music. The openings have always proved to be an excellent glimpse of what is yet to come. Over the next four days, we will hear from many renowned speakers who encompass the eye research field from clinical, basic science to translational studies.

Starting as a graduate student, then as a postdoc and eventually as a junior faculty, I see how the ISER meetings provide an excellent opportunity to receive contributions from younger scientists. The sessions are specifically designed to promote both cutting-edge vision research and interactions among young and established investigators, and create a great arena for networking with colleagues and scientists. The ISER meetings have given me the opportunity to present my research, and network with well-established investigators in a casual yet professional environment. The well-organized sessions have allowed me to recollect my thoughts and reflect upon my study.

We hear about the basic pathological mechanisms to novel gene- and cell-based therapeutic strategies for glaucoma. We understand lens development and regeneration, and how the integrated cellular structure and function of the lens contributes to its overall optical properties. We discuss new advancements in the areas of corneal and ocular surface infection, repair, regenerative and stem cell biology. We learn the immunologic contributions to diseases such as uveitis, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, and how the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) forms an immunosuppressive barrier and controls complement cascade in the retina. We learn new cutting edge advances in numerous emerging imaging technologies as well as potentially important future diagnostic techniques in ophthalmology. We get introduced to animal and organoid models of human disorders, and stem cell-based therapies for photoreceptor dystrophies, the latest advances in ocular therapeutic agents, and finally, we learn about recent advances in genetics and genomics and its role in health and disease of the eye.

ISER would like to encourage all Young Investigator Travel Fellowship Awardees to attend the Welcome Reception.  This is an excellent opportunity for young investigators to network with colleagues and get recognized by the senior investigators in their field of study.

We are inviting Young Investigators members who are attending the meeting to be our “blog writers.” If you are a Young Investigator ISER member interested in posting comments and highlights about the meeting on ISER’s Member’s-only forum, Eye2Eye, please contact me.
I'm interested in writing on the Members-Only Forum »
If you are looking for a relaxing, casual and fun environment to hear cutting-edge research, make connections with your colleagues and senior investigators, then ISER 2016 is the place for YOU! I look forward to seeing you all in Tokyo, Japan, on September 25-29, 2016!

Mehrnoosh Saghizadeh, PhD
ISER Young Investigator Representative

News from the Membership Committee

As the new Chair of ISER’s Membership Committee, I would like to encourage all members to support the young investigators in their laboratories by inspiring them to join ISER.  ISER has many advantages, including the following:
  • Publishing and platform presentation opportunities
  • Members-only discussion forum – Eye2Eye
  • Research prizes – over $100,000 distributed biennially through International research awards
  • Reduced registration fees for International Biennial Meetings and off-year meetings
  • Reduced subscription rate for monthly Journal – Experimental Eye Research
  • Quarterly online newsletter
  • Travel Fellowships
  • Mentor Program
  • Lab Exchange Program
  • Opportunities to participate on ISER committees and in leadership
ISER meetings provide great opportunities to meet international experts in your fields of research, to establish collaborations and investigate employment options.
Our current membership stands at 720, and is rapidly increasing!  Please do not hesitate to contact me directly about ways ISER can better serve its members.

Muayyad R Al-Ubaidi, PhD
ISER Membership Committee Chair

News from the Communications Committee

The ISER website has been updated with additional funding sources for eye research: ADA, RPB, JDF and BrightFocus. Each ISER member should be receiving the Experimental Eye Research table of contents through the member’s only Eye2Eye forum. If you are not receiving this, please contact the ISER office to make sure you’re signed up for the forum.
Email the ISER listserv »
We have expanded our presence on Social Media. Eye2Eye was launched successfully with guidelines and rules posted on the ISER website. Goldis Malek has facilitated ISER’s representation on LinkedIn.  We encourage all members to be “LinkedIn” to ISER so that all of your LinkedIn contacts will learn more about this great Society.
ISER on LinkedIn »
Bryan Jones has set up ISER’s Twitter account. He has posting tweets on vision centric issues and reposting material from other sources to it. He has also been promoting the abstract submission dates for the upcoming meeting. The volume is low but we do have a presence. Please tweet!
ISER on Twitter »
We have a Facebook presence which should be expanded in the very near future. In searching “ISER” on Facebook, there is already another scientific education group using the name ISER and a music collaborative. Facebook is crowded with ISER’s so become friends with our ISER, not the music collective or robotics group!
ISER on Facebook »
Finally, the award talks at the Biennial Meeting were not filmed in the past. The committee agrees that these should be filmed and archived on our website. We still feel that this should be explored especially if the speaker agrees to it. This could be ISER’s version of a TED talk. We are looking into this possibility for future ISER meetings.

Gerard A. Lutty, PhD
Chair, Communication Committee

Eye Photo of the Quarter

Wholemount image of a rabbit retina immunolabeled with anti-GFAP (green) and anti-vimentin (red), captured with an Olympus FV1000 laser scanning confocal microscope. The two proteins label Muller cell endfeet in the inner retina. Basic fibroblast growth factor was injected into a normal rabbit eye causing the Muller cells to become reactive. This resulted in retinal folding and the formation of an epiretinal membrane.  An area of retinal degeneration produced a circular indentation in the retina below the epiretinal membrane causing the image to appear as an eye with an eyebrow (unpublished study).

Image captured by:
Geoffrey P. Lewis, PhD, FARVO
Neuroscience Research Institute
University of California Santa Barbara
If you have a photo to be considered for this featured spot, please submit your scientific image, along with a figure legend, by clicking the link below.
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.
View ISER Career Center »

Lab Profile

Paulus Lab

Left to right: Haonan Zhang, Chao Tian, Xueding Wang, Yannis Paulus, Jose Davila, Zizhong Hu, Aghapi Mordovanakis
The Paulus Lab at the University of Michigan, Kellogg Eye Center, is a multi-disciplinary group dedicated to improving the vision of patients suffering from eye diseases through applying physics, biomedical engineering, optics, ultrasound, and mathematical modeling to develop novel retinal imaging systems and therapies. We seek to improve early disease diagnosis, improve treatment monitoring, and practice more individualized precision medicine tailored to each patient through molecular imaging.

We have developed a novel, multimodal molecular imaging system to visualize individual capillaries and neovascularization of the eye using a safe energy level that incorporates photoacoustic microscopy (PAM), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and confocal fluorescence microscopy. Using contrast agents, we evaluate markers for the early detection of choroidal and retinal neovascularization. This work will allow physicians to practice precision medicine through providing real-time, in vivo molecular information. It will also improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of neovascularization in diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

The lab is also developing a novel new treatment using a combination of nanosecond pulse duration laser with ultrasound to selectively treat blood vessels without damaging surrounding tissue called photo-mediated ultrasound therapy (PUT). The Paulus Lab is also developing a non-dilated, high-quality, smartphone-based retinal fundus imaging camera for the screening of diabetic retinopathy and other tele-medicine applications. We welcome collaborations and have numerous interdisciplinary collaborations, both at the University of Michigan in the departments of Biomedical Engineering, Radiology, and Chemical Engineering, and other institutions. You can visit us online at: or contact
If you would like to submit a Lab Profile for a future ISER Eyes on The World issue, please email


Christina Enroth-Cugell

Christina Alma Elisabeth Enroth-Cugell, emeritus professor of biomedical engineering and neurobiology at Northwestern University, passed away June 15 at the age of 96. She was a distinguished vision scientist and wonderful mentor and colleague.

Christina was well-known for work on the physiology of the mammalian retina, a passion that dated back to her time as a student at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where she earned an MD and also her PhD under Ragnar Granit, one of the Nobel Prize winners in Vision.  She then did postdoctoral work at Karolinska and also at Harvard.  Christina was born in Helsinki, Finland, in the Swedish colony there, where her father was a prominent ophthalmologist, and one of Granit’s teachers.

Her work on cat retinal ganglion cells led to her seminal research defining X and Y cells, published in 1966 with John Robson from Cambridge University. That study, which has been cited nearly 2,000 times, was one of the first to use systems analysis methods in vision, and it launched a field of study on parallel pathways in the visual system. After John Robson’s time in the lab, systems analysis fell by the wayside for a number of years while her group focused on spatial and temporal aspects of receptive fields using more traditional methods, but still with quantitative rigor.  With the advent of PDP-11 computers, and the ability to generate grating displays more easily, Fourier analysis came back to her lab in the mid 1970’s.  

Christina’s lab was a hub for vision scientists from around the world, and many who went on to establish their own labs received part of their training there, including Robert Shapley, Brian Cleland, Larry Pinto, Robert Shapley, A.B. Bonds, Albert Kirby, Peter Lennie, Tiande Shou, Michael Levine, Laura Frishman, John Troy, Alan Freeman, and myself.  Everyone was treated to lunch and tea in the combined Biomedical Engineering Department kitchen and machine shop, and/or to sherry and dinner with colleagues and families at her home, known as “Hotel Judson.” Christina, in her gray lab coat, could sometimes seem forbidding to outsiders, and she was a critical scientist.  But she was also very compassionate – she was most commonly called Grandma, and she was concerned about justice and fairness, and she helped people in many ways.

In 1983, Christina and John Robson together received the Friedenwald Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology for their contributions to the study of visual physiology. In recognizing her for the award, Mathew Alpern wrote in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science: “The quality of her research and her supremely humane Menschlichkeit [humanity] have earned her friends and admirers among colleagues around the world.”

In addition to the Friedenwald Award, she received several other notable accolades, including the inaugural Ludwig von Sallmann Prize at the International Congress of Eye Research in 1982, as well as an honorary degree from the University of Helsinki. She also served as a member of the National Institute of Health’s National Advisory Eye Council, and was named fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1994, she was inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering for “distinguished contributions to basic visual science.”

Christina arrived at Northwestern in 1955 and worked as a research fellow and instructor in the Ophthalmology Department before transitioning to a faculty position in 1962 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology, supported by an NIH Career Development Award. In 1968, she officially moved to the Technological Institute (now the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science), although her lab had been in Evanston since 1959.  She was one of the first female faculty members in engineering at Northwestern, a founding faculty member of the Biomedical Engineering Department and an early faculty member In the Neurobiology Department.
Christina is survived by her husband David W. Cugell, a professor emeritus of pulmonary medicine and the founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Northwestern, and by her step-niece, Gunilla Haegerstrom-Portnoy, a professor of Optometry at Berkeley.  

We will all miss her, but she had a great, long life, and the memories and work live on.

Robert Linsenmeier
Evanston, IL
July, 2016

Thanks to John Troy, John Robson, and Robert Shapley for their input.

Abraham Spector

The Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University Medical Center mourns the passing of Abraham Spector, PhD who was associated with the institution for 50 years. After arriving at Columbia in 1965, he rose to Professor of Ophthalmic Biochemistry in 1973 and served as Malcom Aldrich Professor and Director of Research from 1996 until his retirement in 2004, at which time be became Professor Emeritus. His laboratory was internationally recognized for its work on the lens of the eye, and the aging processes leading to cataract formation. He was awarded the Proctor Medal by the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology, and also served as President. He was a founding member of the Alcon Research Institute. His inquiring mind, complete devotion to basic science research, and warm collegiality will be greatly missed. We extend our condolences to his wife, Mitzi Filson, his sons Paul and David, and extended family.

George Cioffi, MD, Chairman
Stanley Chang, MD, Chairman Emeritus
Rando Allikmets, PhD, Director of Research
Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University Medical Center
ISER 2016 · Sept 25-29 · Tokyo, Japan
ARVO Asia 2017
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EER -- Official Journal of ISER
ISER Officers:
President – Dr. John Penn
Immediate Past President – Dr. Steven Fliesler
Secretary – Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling
Treasurer – Dr. Christine McGahan
Vice-Presidents (Europe) – Dr. Ernst Tamm and Dr. Juana Gallar
Vice-Presidents (Asia-Pacific) – Dr. Takeshi Iwata and Dr. Frank Lovicu
Vice-Presidents (Americas) – Dr. Gerard Lutty and Dr. Muayyad Al-Ubaidi
Copyright © 2016 International Society for Eye Research, All rights reserved.

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