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Minisymposia

 

Advances and Insights into Retinal Disease, Therapy and Development using Human Retinal Organoids (BI)
Organizers: Stephanie Hagstrom, Carlo Rivolta and Elena Semina
Speakers: David Gamm, M. Valeria Canto Soler, Robert Johnston, Susana da Silva and Wei Liu

Human retinal organoids have emerged as a powerful model system for the study of retinal disease and development.  New developments in retinal organoid technology provide avenues for models of retinal disease, studies of pathological mechanisms, and development of therapies for retinal degeneration.  Presenters in this minisymposium will discuss their application as human disease models and as a source of transplantation therapies, as well as  highlight advances in organoid technology and insights into pathological mechanisms.

AI: Opportunities for Reverse Translation? (GL)
Organizers: Rebecca Sappington and Marinko Sarunic
Speakers: Michael Girard, Kevin Chan, Louis Pasquale, Christopher Leung and Yali Jia

Bench-to-bedside translation is of paramount import to the future of eye disease. A primary obstacle to this translation is the relevance of preclinical outcomes in patient populations. The development of preclinical outcomes with direct or strong associations to clinical outcomes is a means to overcoming this challenge. AI and deep learning revolutionized ocular imaging in patient studies and continue to provide novel insights into the origins and management of progressive eye disease. In contrast, the use of AI and deep learning in animal models has been slow to develop. However, recent studies in animal models utilize these analytical modalities for standardization and enhanced data processing, suggesting both interest and utility in preclinical AI. This symposium will consider the theoretical question – “Can we derive translatable outcomes in animal models from AI initiatives in human patients?” A platform of recognized experts in AI and its application to both human disease and animal models will discuss opportunities, challenges, and the future of AI in bedside-to-bench-to-bedside translation.

Beyond the retina: The impact of vision on behavior (VN)
Organizers: Steve DeVries, Tiffany Schmidt and David Krizaj
Speakers: Chinfei Chen, Samer Hattar, Greg Schwartz and Andrew Huberman

The output of the retina guides us in the visual world in myriad ways, both conscious and subconscious. The goal of this Minisymposium is to summarize recent advances in our understanding of the central targets of retinal ganglion cells including their synaptic organization, structure, function, and role in mammalian behavior. The importance of this topic is spurred on by the recent identification of more than 40 retinal ganglion cell types based on their unique visual functions and transcriptomic expression profiles. Further contributing to the importance are advances in viral tracing techniques, connectomics, opto- and chemo- genetic probes, and imaging and recording technologies. Individual talks will the address how the diverse retinal outputs innervate and act on multiple brain centers to control mood, arousal, motivation, and conscious perception. By associating specific retinal outputs with central targets and clinically important behaviors, this minisymposium will be of broad interest to both basic and clinical researchers.

Cellular reprogramming and regenerative strategies to treat ocular diseases (CO)
Organizers: Rajiv Mohan, Vivien Coulson-Thomas and Matilda Chan
Speakers: Rajiv Mohan, Ruby Shalom-Feuerstein, Mary Ann Stepp, Nick Di Girolamo, Sophie Deng, Yiqin Du and Natasha Frank

The overall goal of this minisymposium is to provide an overview on the most recent advances in the field of regenerative medicine, including cellular reprogramming and use of biomaterials. This minisymposium will include basic, translational and clinical research with focus on therapeutic approaches for treating the cornea and the ocular surface. The talks will feature a range of areas within the field. Although focused on the ocular surface, this minisymposium will be of relevance to other ocular pathologies.

Decoding the transcriptional and epigenetic dynamics generating cell type populations in the developing retina (RC)
Organizers: Sabine Fuhrmann
Speakers: Shiming Chen, Joel Miesfeld, Xiuqian Mu, Issam Al Diri, Sui Wang, and Joseph Brzezinski

The developmental production of retinal cell types from a single population of progenitors is tightly regulated and occurs in a temporally conserved order with substantial overlap. While several critical key regulators have been identified, many open questions remain: how do multipotent retinal progenitors generate subpopulations with distinct competence states, how is transition from one state to another achieved, how do progenitor subpopulations influence each other and how do individual cell lineages progress over time? Presenters in this minisymposium will provide novel insight into the role of chromatin organization, epigenetic and transcriptional modifications controlling genesis of individual retinal cell type populations, including ganglion and photoreceptor cells.

Emerging and Re-emerging Viruses: Pathobiology and Ocular manifestations (IM)
Organizers: Ashok Kumar and Steven Yeh
Speakers: Susan Shresta, Steven Yeh, Deepak Shukla, Jessica Shantha, Vaithilingaraja Arumugaswami and Alexander Ljubimov

Emerging and re-emerging viruses have the potential to cause localized outbreaks to pandemics with increased mortality and morbidity as evidenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Zika epidemics in Brazil, and Ebola outbreaks in Africa. Indeed, another outbreak could be right around the corner. Owing to their evolving nature, an in-depth understanding of the biology and infectious potential of these viruses is needed. In comparison to systemic disease, the ocular manifestations of viral infections are considered relatively uncommon, in part, due to under-reporting leading to a lack of awareness. With an emphasis on emerging and re-emerging viruses, this symposium will provide an international platform to bring together researchers and clinicians working on ocular and non-ocular diseases, covering host-virus interactions, molecular virology, immunology, epidemiological surveillance, and diagnosing ocular manifestations. The formation of a global network and sharing scientific knowledge will help us to better prepare and anticipate forthcoming pandemics and evaluate their impact on the vision.

Vice Presidential Minisymposium: Frontiers in Structural Biology and Biochemistry of the Retina (BI)
Organizers: T. Michael Redmond, Carlo Rivolta and Stephanie Hagstrom
Speakers: Kevin Schey, Philip Kiser, Filippo Mancia, Theodore Wensel and Bryan W. Jones

The minisymposium will demonstrate how modern methods in biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology are revolutionizing our knowledge and understanding of the retina. Several investigators, junior and senior, will present exciting recent advances made in understanding the fine structure of the retina and eye by modern methods in biochemistry (crystallography, cryo-EM, mass spectrometry, high-resolution microscopy, biophysics, etc.) and how these insights are enhancing our understanding of ocular pathologies.

Innovation in Simulation based Ophthalmic Surgical Training Delivery (CL)
Organizers: Van Charles Lansingh and Ashish Bacchav
Speakers: Van Charles Lansingh, Ann-Sofia Thomsen, Ashish Bacchav, Akshay Nair, Chetan Ahiwalay and Jean Marie Andre

COVID-19 has resulted in fewer elective surgeries being performed globally. This has resulted in fewer training opportunities for trainees, especially in surgical specialties such as ophthalmology. Simulation based training is a powerful adjunct to live-surgical training – but can it be an effective alternative? The answer lies in understanding the potential of simulation. The symposium will cover simulation-based training in ophthalmology in a systematic and comprehensive manner. It throws light on the need for simulation-based training; the different routes of training delivery: in-person vs remote training and how to integrate simulators into any existing training curriculum. Additionally, the minisymposium also addresses two key issues – is there any real skill transfer when a surgical technique is learnt on a simulator but performed in real life, and how can this skill be measured or assessed? This minisymposium is aimed at clinicians, researchers, and ophthalmic educators to allow for a holistic understanding of simulation in ophthalmology.

Keratoconus – A physiological optics perspective (VI)
Organizers: Jos Rozema and Andrew Carkeet
Speakers: Geunyoung Yoon, Yan Li, Jason Marsack, Cynthia Roberts and Giuliano Scarcelli

Keratoconus is a condition that gradually deforms the cornea, leading to a major loss in visual quality if left uncorrected. Although the underlying cause of the condition remains unclear, there have been many improvements in its detection and management, thanks to innovations in physiological optics. In this session some of the vision scientists that push the boundaries of these new techniques will present the latest research in their field, targeting both clinicians and non-clinicians.

Modulation of the RPE’s immunogenic phenotype in disease (RC)
Organizer: Olaf Strauss
Speakers: Florian Sennlaub, Debasish Sinha, Catherine Bowes Rickman, James T. Handa, Aparna Lakkaraju and Roxana Radu

The barrier formation by endothelial cells of blood vessels in the inner retina and by the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) establishes the immune privilege of the retina. They both form an active barrier that “physically” separates the retina from the rest of the body. The RPE, however, also continuously interacts with the immune system through receptors and by secretion of immune modulatory factors. In the healthy eye, that interaction serves to inhibit immune reactions. Acquired (e.g. age-related macular degeneration) and inherited forms (e.g. Stargardt’s disease) of retinal degeneration lead to acute or chronic immune response in the outer retina. Studies exploring mechanisms of retinal degeneration demonstrate that RPE is very actively involved in this process. One of the mechanisms is the switch of the RPE’s immunogenic phenotype from immune inhibition to stimulation of immune reactions. The causes can be variable and might interact with each other: metabolic changes and cell stress induce new patterns of gene expression; immune cells from systemic circulation find a way to overcome the immune inhibition and turn the immune reactions of the RPE. The minisymposium brings together researchers that have detected fundamental mechanisms, established new methods in determine the RPE immunogenic phenotype and discusses the significance of the diverse mechanisms for therapeutic targets.

Molecular determinants of variable phenotypes in ocular disorders (BI)
Organizers: Carlo Rivolta, Stephanie Hagstrom and Elena Semina
Speakers: Terri Young, Rando Allikmets, Elise Héon, Carlo Rivolta and Janey Wiggs

Many ocular conditions, including clear-cut monogenic diseases, may display variable clinical phenotypes or even be parts of spectrum disorders. Recent research has shown that this clinical variability may be shaped by specific molecular factors, redefining classical concepts such as penetrance, expressivity, and disease modifiers. This minisymposium aims at providing new insights into the biological mechanisms that are at the origin of inter-individual variability of ocular conditions, their progression, and their potential management.

Ocular Surface Disorders: Biology, Pathology, and Mechanism (CO)
Organizers: Rajiv Mohan, Vivien Coulson-Thomas and Matilda Chan
Speakers: Matilda Chan, Shivalingappa Swamynathan, Vivien Coulson-Thomas, Bhavana Sharma, Carlo Iomini and Driss Zoukhri

The understanding of biology, pathology, and mechanisms of ocular surface conditions like dry eye, blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, allergic eye diseases, chemical/thermal burns etc. is emerging but still at infancy. There is a clear need for more tools/training to diagnose and manage ocular surface disorders (OSD). This minisymposium will highlight evolving concepts, innovative approaches, and hot topics associated with OSD pathologies/treatments. The focus of this minisymposium is to discuss and recognize research directions that lead to better understanding of biology, pathology, and mechanisms of OSD.

Optoretinography: Technique and findings for understanding retinal function (VI)
Organizer: Jessica I. W. Morgan
Speakers: Ramkumar Sabesan, Donald T. Miller, Xincheng Yao, Gereon Hüttmann and Robert F. Cooper

Gene therapy and regenerative medicine approaches for treating blinding disease attempt to restore function to retinal neurons.  Thus, there is a need for functional biomarkers capable of assessing neuronal function in health, retinal disease and its treatment. High-resolution imaging in combination with visual stimulation has enabled optical measures of cellular function. Termed optoretinography, the emerging technique allows objective and noninvasive assessment of photoreceptor and other retinal neuron function at the cellular level. Panelists in this session will describe current state-of-the-art optoretinography techniques and applications of optoretinography to basic science and translational applications. Discussion will include future directions and remaining challenges for widespread adoption of the technique.

Oxidative stress in age-related eye diseases - What do we know now? (LE)
Organizers: Julie Lim and Juliet Moncaster
Speakers: Marvin Edeas, Ula Jurkunas, Alberto Izzotti, Marc Kantorow, Atsuko Kimura and James Handa

Oxidative stress is known to contribute to a number of age-related diseases in the eye. As a result, antioxidant supplementation has been the focus of intense investigation, yet therapeutics to prevent the onset of disease still remain elusive. This proposed minisymposium will highlight the latest advances in our understanding of the interplay between reactive oxygen species (ROS), antioxidants and the restoration of redox balance in age related conditions that affect the cornea, lens, trabecular meshwork and the retina. Presentations will include basic science research for understanding the underlying mechanisms as well as trends in antioxidant delivery and clinical translation.

Retinal ganglion cells and reflexive vision (VN)
Organizers: Steve DeVries, Tiffany Schmidt and David Krizaj
Speakers: David Berson, Jianhua Cang, Michael Crair and Martha Bickford

Functional studies on retinal circuits and higher visual centers are often performed in isolation leading to information 'siloing'.  This minisymposium addresses recent advances in our understanding of reflexive vision featuring approaches that view specific inner retinal circuits, the responses of specific types of ganglion cells, and circuits within central postsynaptic targets as integrated systems.  Our ability to study integrated systems in great detail hinges on recent innovations in ontogenetic probes, mouse genetics, deep imaging, connectomics, and computer modeling as exemplified by the talks in this session.

Seeing beyond the eye - Disciplinary affiliation in research collaboration (AP)
Organizers: Vivian Lee, Vikas Khetan and Jesse Berry
Speakers: Benjamin Kim, Vivian Lee, Tonia Rex, Liya Xu, Prithvi Mruthyunjaya and Sapna Patel

Collaborative science has transformed the way that research is conducted, offering a promise of accelerating our understanding of some of our most monumental challenges. The growing number of large collaborative groups shows Team Science is a feasible option that should be fostered. Alliances across relatively unrelated fields and/or the simultaneous study of multiple discrete mechanisms of disease have been shown to have unanticipated gains. This minisymposium will bring together diverse experts to illustrate how collaborative science can accelerate our understanding of ocular diseases in expected and unexpected ways. Invited speakers will highlight their collaborative efforts across different disciplines and mechanisms, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks from the integration of novel approaches and data, from genomics to proteomics to in vivo imaging.

Segmental Aqueous Humor Outflow and its role in IOP regulation (AP)
Organizers: Paloma Liton
Speakers: Ted Acott, Vijaykrishna Raghunathan, Ester Reina Torres, Haiyan Gong and Alex Huang

Several studies conducted in different species have shown that aqueous humor outflow through the conventional outflow pathway is not uniform, but it shows a segmental pattern with areas of high flow, low flow or no-flow regions. Although segmental outflow has been observed for many years, the biology behind segmental flow and its impact on outflow resistance and how it might be related to ocular hypertension in glaucoma are just starting to be elucidated. A combination of anatomical, molecular and cellular factors contributes to segmental outflow, including changes in extracellular matrix, cytokines and proximity to collector channels. Understanding the biological and molecular basis of outflow segmentation is clinically relevant for the development of future therapeutic strategies aimed at selectively modulating segmental flow. This minisymposium brings together a platform of recognized experts in outflow segmentation. Outflow segmentation within the context of outflow physiology, pathophysiology and potential therapeutics will be discussed, while celebrating the extraordinary contributions of the late Dr. Janice A. Vranka, PhD to the research field.

Social Determinants of Eye and Vision Health (CL)
Organizers: Joshua Ehrlich, Alexander Schuster and Gui-Shuang Ying
Speakers: Elizabeth Lundeen, Megan Collins, Angela Elam, Kristen Harris Nwanyanwu, Alison Abraham, Bonnielin Swenor and Ecosse Lamoureux

There is considerable evidence that social determinants of health (SDOH) play a critical role in the distribution, diagnosis, and outcomes of vision health and eye disease across the life course. This minisymposium will explore the influence of various SDOH on vision and eye health including education, economic stability, social and community context, neighborhoods and the built environment, and healthcare access and quality. The session will include discussions about specific eye diseases such as amblyopia, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, as well as general discussions about social determinants of vision impairment and blindness. Speakers will present research from across the life course, from childhood to late life. Following this session, attendees will have a more complete understanding of how SDOH “get into the eyes” and impact vision and eye health across diverse populations.

The Microbiome and Ocular Health (IM)
Organizers: Anthony St. Leger and Ashok Kumar
Speakers: Dimitra Skondra, Russell Van Gelder, Mihaela Gadjeva, Phoebe Lin and Jerome Ozkan

Recently, it has become apparent that the microbiome, in addition to host genetics and environmental factors, can dictate the difference between health and disease. The effects the microbiome has on ocular health are beginning to be realized from the anterior portion through the posterior portion of the eye. With roles of the microbiome becoming clearer, we still lack an idea of what constitutes a “true” microbiome in low biomass sites like the conjunctiva, vitreous, and retina. Also, in addition to contributions of the local microbiome, systemic sites like the intestines and oral cavity also have impacts on ocular health and disease. While the microbiome and immune system are intricately linked, there is an increasing prevalence of studies that suggest the microbiome may affect visual function independent of the immune response. This minisymposium will bring together a consortia of investigators that study the effects of microbiome during various eye diseases that will spur discussions about what constitutes a “healthy” microbiome, therapeutics to normalize the microbiome, the potential of ocular probiotics, microbe-based therapies to treat eye diseases, host-microbe interactions, and novel ways to identify microbes in low biomass sites like the eye.

Vergence abnormalities and adaptations: Insights from Animal and Human Studies (EY)
Organizer: Fatema Ghasia
Speakers: Vallabh Das, Joseph Demer, Linda McLoon, Aparna Raghuram, Paul Gamlin and Krista Kelly

Vergence Eye Movements are vital for the visual exploration of space in depth, both from a kinetic point of view for the precision of fixing on the fovea and from a static point of view, for the stability of fixation limited to the foveal area. The extent of vergence abnormalities has direct implications for the stability of binocular vision and the control of eye alignment (strabismus). Compromised depth perception can cause difficulties in everyday tasks such as reading and spatial navigation abnormalities. This minisymposium will provide a platform to bring together clinicians and scientists of multiple disciplines with expertise in oculomotor neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, orbital imaging, and cell biology. The minisymposium focuses on the neuroanatomical and neuro-physiologic pathways of vergence and the role of peripheral eye plant in control of vergence. The speakers will discuss the implications of developmental versus acquired disruption of vergence on strabismus and depth perception deficits in animal models and in humans with acquired brain injury. They will provide an overview of the conventional and novel approaches to treat strabismus associated with vergence deficits.

Visual perception and Eye Movements: A common link (EY)
Organizer: Fatema Ghasia
Speakers: Susana Martinez-Conde, Jorge Otero-Millan, Fatema Ghasia, Preeti Verghese, Lynne Kiorpes and Deborah Giaschi

The study of visual perception and eye movements is at the forefront of neuroscience research. Fixational eye movements (microsaccades or fixational saccades) are increasingly recognized to play an important role in vision, serve as an optimal sampling strategy essential for effective visualization of complex scene and high visual acuity tasks, play an important role during every day activities like reading and are linked to attention shifts. Research within the last several years has shown that patients with early and late onset vision loss suffer from visual processing deficits and oculomotor abnormalities. The symposium will bring together physicians and scientists from multiple disciplines with expertise in neurophysiology, biomedical engineering, visual psychophysics and eye movements and discuss the common link between perception and eye movements in visually typical subjects and patients with vision loss.