Thomas Ferguson PhD, FARVO is Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Immunology and Pathology at the School of Medicine.
Ferguson received his PhD degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1982 with a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the Department of Pathology at Yale University in the Laboratory of Richard K. Gershon from 1982-86. He was an Assistant Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia from 1986-88. He joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in 1988 where he is currently a Professor.
Ferguson is a world leader in bridging the gap between basic visual science and the impact of the immune system on ocular function. In this regard, Ferguson has the distinction of having transformed vision research four separate times in his career. First, Ferguson desribed the molecular basis of immune privilege of the eye by demonstrating that the eye constitutively expresses the protein FasL (CD95L) that protects the eye from damaging inflammation by inducing apoptosis in invading inflammatory cells (Science, 1995). The importance of this work ahs been verified in the study of inflammatory diseases such as uveitis and by Ferguson's own demonstration of the importance of FasL expression to the success of corneal transplants (Journal of Clinical Investigation, 1997). This concept has since been expended to other organs such as the placenta, thymus and brain, as well as tumors of the eye and other organs. Second, using the eye as a model system Ferguson was the first to describe that apoptotic cell death was capable of inducing systemic immune tolerance (Immunity, 1996). At that time this was a heretical concept that now forms the basis for therapeutic modalities in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Third, Ferguson was the first to demonstrate that certain subtypes of macrophages promoted angiogenesis in the eye while other subtypes were inhibitory (PLoS Med, 2006), a novel concept now recognized as important in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration.
Finally, Ferguson’s recent work on autophagy, RPE cell phagocytosis, and the visual cycle is transformative in nature (Cell, 2013, Autophagy, 2017). These findings establish for the first time a link between phagocytosis, lysosomal degradation, and the classical visual cycle to support vision. Ferguson's research continues to explore the impact of the immune system (specifically immune privilege) on the heath and function of the eye.
Andrew Taylor PhD, FARVO received his PhD in 1990 from the Department of Microbiology at The Ohio State University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in 1993 with Scott W. Cousins, MD and J. Wayne Streilein, MD at the University of Miami School of Medicine. In 1993 he joined the faculty of the Schepens Eye Research Institute, and the Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School. In April 2010, Taylor joined the faculty of the Department of Ophthalmology, and the Immunology Training program of the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine. As Associate Dean of Research, since January 2015, Taylor has taken on the responsibility to manage the resources of BU School of Medicine research enterprise, which is ranked 30th in the USA.
He is currently serving as a member of the National Institutes of Health, Diseases and Pathology of the Visual System review panel, and has been a reviewer for several international funding agencies, and the DOD. Taylor has been a regular reviewer for 18 journals including IOVS, American Journal of Pathology, and is on the Editorial Board for Ocular Immunology and Inflammation. He is a member of the board of directors of the Streilein Foundation for Ocular Immunology (a nonprofit promoting research, training, and mentorship in immunology). Taylor has been an active member of ARVO since 1990.
He administers the Cora Verhagen Award for the best immunology student/fellow presentation at the annual meeting of ARVO. Taylor is a well-respected and internationally known researcher on ocular immune privilege, ocular immunobiology, and ocular autoimmune disease.
Retinal Cell Biology Section
Patricia A. D'Amore, MBA, PhD, FARVO received her PhD from Boston University, studying vascular endothelial cells and platelets, and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins SOM in the departments of Physiological Chemistry and Ophthalmology, where she developed interest in ocular pathological angiogenesis and used methods of protein biochemistry to isolate angiogenic factors from mammalian retinas. She obtained an MBA degree from Northeastern University in 1987. Following fellowship, she joined the Surgical Research Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital, headed by Judah Folkman. In 1999, she moved to Schepens Eye Research Institute (SERI) as Professor of Ophthalmology and, in 2012, was appointed Director of Research for SERI and, in 2014, Associate Chief of Basic and Translational Research for Mass. Eye & Ear (MEE), the Director of the Howe Lab and the Vice Chair of Basic Science for the Harvard Medical School (HMS), Department of Ophthalmology. D'Amore directs about 50% of her effort to Research Director-associated activities and 50% to research.
D'Amore's laboratory also developed a mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy, which is widely used for investigations of vascular development and preclinical studies of vascular-targeting agents. In collaboration with a group from HMS, MEE, University of California, San Diego, she contributed to the scientific foundation for anti-VEGF therapies for which she and her colleagues received the 2015 António Champalimaud Award. D'Amore has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers, 72 reviews, edited four books and serve as Associate Editor of American Journal of Pathology and Editor-in-Chief of Microvascular Research.
She received the following awards: I received the following awards: Alcon Research Award, Cogan Award, A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from HMS, Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard University, the Rous-Whipple Award from the Society of Investigative Pathology, the Endre A. Balazs Award from ISER, the 2015 Proctor Medal, and the 2016 William Silen Lifeteime Achievement in Mentoring Award from HMS.
Enrica Strettoi, PhD obtained her degree in Biological Sciences and her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Pisa, Italy and received her pre- and post-doctoral training at both the Neurophysiology Institute of the Italian National Research Council (CNR), Pisa, and at the Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology of Harvard Medical School, Boston, during the period 1986-1988. She became tenured researcher of the CNR Neurophysiology Institute in 1988 and senior investigator of the CNR Neuroscience Institute in 2001. She served as the immediate past Head of the Pisa site of the Institute for Neuroscience, from 2005 – 2014 and Strettoi currently serves on the faculty of the Neuroscience Graduate Program in Pisa, Italy.
Strettoi’s laboratory has a long-standing interest in retinal functional architecture; the correlations of anatomy and function and, in the last decade, of neurobiology of inherited photoreceptor degeneration. The pure neuroanatomical approach used in the early years of her work has become increasingly multidisciplinary. Her more current work combines various types of microscopy with image analysis, electrophysiology, visual behavior and molecular biology. Strettoi’s early work has entered the canon of the retinal literature. These studies based on electron microscopy of serial sections elucidating the composition of the rod pathway of the mammalian retina, laid the foundation for modern connectome approaches in understanding normal retinal function and dysfunction. Her quantitative comparative neuroanatomical studies still serve as the fundamental reference for our understanding of the retinal organizational plan as it is conserved across the mammalian radiation.
In the last decade, she has dedicated most of her research activity to understand the pathophysiology of inherited photoreceptor degeneration causing disorders responsible for photoreceptor cell death and blindness. She has implemented experimental strategies of photoreceptor rescue, based on pharmacological approaches as well as onto manipulation of the environment, with the final goal of developing treatments to delay human retinal diseases. A major outcome of her work on animal models of Retinitis Pigmentosa has been the emergence of a general concept of active remodeling of the inner retina, a process that affects therapeutic and repair strategies. Her laboratory has also shown the therapeutic potentials of targeting the synthesis of pro-apoptotic sphingolipid messengers to delay photoreceptor loss, as well as the neuroprotective action of environmental manipulations aimed at slowing down the secondary degeneration of cones in Retinitis Pigmentosa.
In addition to directing her laboratory, and teaching at the University of Pisa, Strettoi maintains numerous international collaborations and provides constant support to her Institute. Her laboratory is presently funded by the Macula Vision Research Foundation (USA) and by Fondazione Roma (Italy). During the period 2000-2010, she was recipient of an R01 grant from NEI, as a foreign investigator. She currently reviews grant applications for numerous international organizations, as well as papers for major neuroscience and vision research journals. Strettoi currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Comparative Neurology, Frontiers in Neuroscience, Molecular Vision. Strettoi was elected to the Annual Meeting Program Committee to represent Retinal Cell Biology in 2015; she is serving as the RC section chair 2017-2018.
Visual Psychophysics/Physiological Optics
Stephen A. Burns, PhD, FARVO received a BS in Engineering from Lehigh University and a PhD in Biophysics. He is currently a Professor of Optometry at Indiana University and the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in the School of Optometry. Burns is a Gold Fellow in ARVO, and a Fellow of two other societies, the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the American Academy of Optometry. He is the 2010 awardee of OSA’s Tillyer Award for contributions to vision science. He was the Chairman of OSA’s Medical Optics Division in 1991, is the past Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Optical Society of America A. and is currently an Associate Editor for Vision Research. Burns has served on numerous panels including the NIH BDPE Study Section and the FDA's Panel on Ophthalmic Devices as well as on the Board of Directors of OSA and as Vice Chair of the American Academy of Optometry’s Visual Science membership committee. Burns has been attending ARVO since 1975 and has served on the AMPC, including as Chair of the ARVO VI program panel.
Burns research interests are varied. While in graduate school at the Ohio State University he worked with Dr. Carl Ingling on opponent color theory and that interest in color and early visual processing has been his major interest for his entire career. His interest in fundamental visual processes was extended to the impact of disease on vision during his postdoctoral studies with Drs. Joel Pokorny and Vivianne Smith in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Chicago. He has continued to pursue research that involved both clinical and basic aspects of retinal function in his subsequent positions at the University of Pittsburgh (1979-1987), the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School (1987-2005) and now at Indiana University where he is a Professor of Optometry.
Burns research has typically included both the development of new technologies and then the application of these technologies to focused investigations of human retinal structure and function. Thus he developed and applied psychophysical techniques for measuring cone photopigment kinetics, used nonlinear analysis of electrophysiological (ERG) and psychophysical responses, as well as developing and applying optical techniques for measuring the optical aberrations of the eye and measuring the Stile-Crawford effect. Currently his lab is a major contributor to advances in combining adaptive optics and scanning laser ophthalmoscopy to better understand the impact of diabetes and glaucoma on the retina.
Geunyoung Yoon, PhD is a full Professor of Ophthalmology, the Institute of Optics, Center for Visual Science and Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester, where he leads the Advanced Physiological Optics Laboratory. He obtained his BS in Physics in 1990 (SungKyunKwan University, South Korea) and his MSc and PhD in Laser and Optical Engineering in 1995 and 1998, respectively (Osaka University, Japan). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Center for Visual Science and joined the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Rochester as an Assistant Professor in 2001. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers in internationally recognized scientific journals, 11 book chapters and over 200 invited and contributed presentations at national and international conferences and research institutes. He has over 20 patents awarded or pending. He has been the principal investigator/co-principal investigator on research grants sponsored by NIH, NSF, U.S. Army, New York State, industry and private funding agencies. He is the recipient of the Dolly Green Special Scholars Award, Research to Prevent Blindness and David E. Bryant Trust Research Award.
Yoon’s laboratory research focuses on improving our understanding of optics of the eye and its impact on neural processing and visual perception, and developing advanced vision correction methods, such as state-of-art binocular adaptive optics vision simulator. His laboratory also studies mechanisms of eye diseases by using advanced in- vivo imaging modalities. Recent research projects include neural adaptation and plasticity in people with poor optics, accommodation and presbyopia correction, multimodal tear imaging for dry eye research, and myopia development and control. In addition to directing the lab, he has also been actively engaged in mentoring graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and ophthalmology residents/fellows. Yoon serves as a reviewer of grant proposals for NIH and international funding agencies, and journal manuscripts.