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Vision seminar debuts mini-symposium talks on research presented at ARVO

Date Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Vision Seminar Series debut on Thursday, May 18, 2017 was the first mini-symposia with speakers who presented their research at the annual 2017 ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology) meeting, which was held in Baltimore, USA. The topics ranged from basic to clinical and educational science and were presented by post-doctoral research fellows and medical students.

Lolita Petit, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research fellow in the Punzo lab talked about recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) mediated gene therapy for the retina. Her presentation entitled “Rod outer segment development influences AAV-mediated photoreceptor transduction after subretinal injection” addressed the rod-cone transduction efficiency of various AAV serotypes to determine what are the barriers that limit efficient cone transduction by AAVs. Her data, which is featured on the cover of the June 2017 issue of the journal Human Gene Therapy and also published in the same issue, will redefine the approach of how retinal gene therapy needs to be applied in humans in order to be successful.

Dr. Omar Abdelmegid, a post-doctoral research fellow in Dr. Shlomit Schaal’s laboratory, the Chair of the Ophthalmology Department at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, presented work on a new algorithm that allows for automated early detection of minute microvascular changes in diabetic patients prior to any clinical signs of diabetic retinopathy. With the use of optical coherence tomography angiography images from the retina Dr. Abdelmegid was able to identify parameters that will in the future enable ophthalmologists to recognize at a very early stage, which patients are at higher risk to develop diabetic retinopathy. This will ameliorate early diagnosis and care, which should reduce the number of individuals with disease progression to the more severe advanced stages.

The two medical students, Lauren Lombardi and Nisarg Chhaya, presented equally exciting work. Lauren, like Dr. Abdelmegid, used also optical coherence tomography angiography to characterize retinal and choroidal microvascular changes in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Nisarg worked on an education research project and presented work on the use of 3D video display and its potential to enhance medical students ability to better understand and visualize surgical procedures preformed in the eye. For the first time food and beverages for the Vision Seminar Series were provided by our new sponsor Allergan.

Vision Seminar ARVO 2017

(Above) Dr. Claudio Punzo and Lolita Petit, Ph.D.
Vision Seminar ARVO 2017

(Above) Dr. Omar Abdelmegid
Vision Seminar ARVO 2017

 (Above) Lauren Lombardi
Vision Seminar ARVO 2017

(Above) Nisarg Chhaya