Sunday, May 2, 9-11am EDT

COVID-19 and the eye
Organizers: Ashok Kumar, Nida Sen and Daniel Saban
Speakers: Luk Vandenberghe, Rupesh Agrawal, Elia Duh, Ashok Kumar, Timothy Blenkinsop and Melanie Ott

The global spread of SARS-CoV-2, a highly virulent new coronavirus, is holding hostage much of the human population worldwide. It is the causative agent of COVID-19, a pandemic disease associated with high rates of hospitalization and mortality. We now know that SARS-CoV-2 infection has implications beyond pulmonary diseases, as systemic viremia and viral-induced cytokine storm cause pathology in multiple organs. Although the potential involvement of the eye in terms of transmission, as a reservoir or as an end organ of infection remains elusive, it has instigated an influx of research into this field. Several recent studies have demonstrated the expression of viral entry receptors for SARS-CoV-2 in ocular cells and its RNA has also been detected in tears and conjunctiva of some COVID-19 patients. Thus, there is significant interest in understanding the pathobiology of coronaviruses in the eye. This symposium will provide an international platform to bring together researchers and clinicians working on ocular and non- ocular diseases of coronaviruses, covering molecular virology of SARS-CoV-2, host-virus interactions, innate ocular immunity, therapeutic approaches including vaccines, and epidemiology of ocular complications, and experimental models.

Monday, May 3, 9-11am EDT

Epigenomics and personalized medicine: "Across the globe"
Organizers: Brian Perkins and Neena Haider
Speakers: Margaret DeAngelis, Tara Moore, Ales Cvekl, Renu Kowluru, Michael Dyer and Louise Porter

Epigenomics and investigating accumulation of epigenetic modifications are emerging fields of study in ophthalmology, information from which has the potential to help guide individualized prevention and treatment strategies for various ocular diseases. This symposium will bring together leading scientists who will share their latest research on the role epigenomics is playing not only during development but also in shaping future personalized medicine for ocular diseases involving tissues from the anterior and posterior segments, including corneal dystrophies, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.


Wednesday, May 5, 9-11am EDT

Epidemiology of diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration: Past, present and future
Organizers: Robert Finger and Nicole Carnt
Speakers: Lloyd Paul Aiello, Tien Wong, Barbara Klein, Caroline Klaver and Emily Chew

Over the past few decades, extraordinary progress has been made in understanding the epidemiology of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), with much of the groundwork laid by Professors Ronald and Barbara Klein. It is hard to think of another couple who have had a similar prolific and prodigious impact in Ophthalmology and vision research. Their combined work has yielded a rich array of extraordinarily important insights into the epidemiology of these two ocular pathologies. They established groundbreaking cohort studies, such as the Wisconsin Epidemiology Study of Diabetic Retinopathy (WESDR) and Beaver Dam Eye Study (BDES), and have been at the forefront of new advances in Ophthalmology and vision research, including imaging, genetics and disentangling gene-environment interactions. The world is facing an unprecedented age shift and this "silver tsunami" has grave consequences for current and future approaches for clinical ophthalmic epidemiology for DR and AMD, notwithstanding the potential, but uncertain, roles of new retinal treatments, gene therapy, big data and artificial intelligence. This symposium brings together a platform of highly esteemed retinal epidemiologists and clinician scientists who have trained or collaborated with the Kleins and will share how the couple's body of work has shaped our understanding about these two ocular pathologies. They will discuss past achievements, current challenges and future research in risk, diagnosis, treatment and management of DR and AMD, while celebrating this unique opportunity to acknowledge our collective gratitude to Ronald and Barbara Klein for their extraordinary contribution to clinical ocular epidemiology and ophthalmic research.

Friday, May 7, 10:30am-12:30pm EDT

Focus on the fovea: What makes the fovea unique?
Erika Eggers, Steven H. DeVries and Tiffany Schmidt
Speakers: Dennis Dacey, Constance Cepko, Raunuk Sinha, Joseph Carroll, Cynthia Toth and Christine Curcio

In primates, the fovea is the part of the retina that conveys the most important information that is necessary for daily life. Loss of vision in the fovea causes significant visual impairment. Therefore, when considering sight saving therapeutics in patients, conserving or restoring foveal vision is crucial. However, the fovea is a unique retinal area that is specifically vulnerable to disorders. To explore why this vulnerability might exist, this symposium will bring together speakers who have studied the structure, physiology and pathology of the fovea using different techniques. The symposium is of interest for basic and clinical researchers.