The Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh hosted its inaugural “Vision Restoration: Regenerative Medicine in Ophthalmology” conference. The event, which attracted 130 attendees, was held at the University Club in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
The audience was comprised of scientists, clinicians, students, fellows, and military representatives as well as members of the general public. The field of regenerative Ophthalmology is in its infancy but it has the potential to affect millions. Conference organizers put the vastness into perspective in pre-conference materials, stating that, “In the time it takes for the conference to be held, over 30,000 people around the world will become blind.”
The first Vision Restoration conference kicked off with a keynote address by Brent Saunders, CEO of Bausch and Lomb. Mr. Saunders stressed the importance of academic and industry collaborations for successful commercialization and clinical adoption stating that academic investigators, “understand the science and have some of the most creative and innovative ideas and research while [industry] has much better insight on reimbursement, on regulatory pathways and ultimately on patient needs.” Mr. Saunders believes that beginning the collaboration process earlier will bolster the success of getting new products to the market.
Please watch the full interview with Mr. Saunders here.
The conference – organized to support the goal of accelerating the pace at which medical practitioners can respond to vision loss with cures – was also certified so that eligible attendees could receive Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. Course directors were Joel S. Schuman, MD, FACS, Director of the UPMC Eye Center and Alan J. Russell, PhD, Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The educational program boasted top names in the field. Among the guest faculty were Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology at University of South California, Jennifer Elisseeff, PhD, Jules Stein Chair in Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University and Eyal Banin, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Retinal and Macular Degenerations, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center.
Conference sessions spanned the spectrum of Ophthalmology regeneration topics and included Corneal Regeneration, Optic Nerve Regeneration, Retinal Regeneration and Alternative Approaches. On Thursday evening, conference attendees gathered for a reception and poster session where more than 22 posters on regenerative ophthalmology were displayed.
The Fox Center for Vision Restoration was established in 2008 with a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Louis J. Fox. Mr. & Mrs. Fox were both in attendance to kickoff the first regenerative ophthalmology conference. Also in attendance were Mr. and Mrs. John Wisnoski, also generous contributors to the Fox Center.
The Vision Restoration conference was deemed a success by participants and plans are already in the works for the second annual conference.