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Volume 2, Issue 1 / Winter 2012  

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

President's Message

As I assume my new responsibilities as President of ISER, I’d like to first thank Dr. Thomas Freddo (Canada) for his service and leadership as my immediate predecessor. Thom not only is our Immediate Past President, but also served ISER prior to that as Treasurer. Hence, I am following in his footsteps, having just served as Treasurer. The role of Treasurer is now in the capable hands of Dr. Christine McGahan (USA; see below), who formerly served as Secretary. The role of Secretary now has been assumed by Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling (Australia; see below), who previously served on the ISER Membership Committee. All three of these outstanding vision scientists have been long-time ISER members and also have participated actively in the governance of ISER over the years. I’d also like to welcome and congratulate the newly elected members of the ISER Council: Dr. Ernst Tamm (Germany; Vice President - Europe); Dr. Olaf Strauss (Germany; Councilor - Europe); Dr. David Hyde (USA; Councilor - North America); Dr. Takeshi Iwata (Japan; Councilor - Pacific Rim). In addition, I’d like to welcome and recognize the newly elected members of ISER’s Membership Committee: representing Europe, Dr. Rudolph Fuchshofer (Germany) and Dr. Xavier Gasull (Spain); representing North America, Dr. Michael Elliott (USA) and Dr. Michael Lee Robinson (USA); and representing the Pacific Rim, Dr. Robbert De longh (Australia). I am grateful to all of these individuals for agreeing to serve on behalf of ISER and I look forward to working with all of them as we move forward with our new governance structure and the business of ISER.

2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year for ISER and its membership. In addition to these leadership changes, we are looking forward to the upcoming 2012 ISER Biennial Meeting in Berlin, Germany (July 21-25, 2012). This will be the 20th such biennial meeting (formerly called “International Congress of Eye Research”, ICER) since the formal incorporation of ISER as a registered professional society. [For more on the history of ISER, go to:] To mark this occasion, there will be a special ceremony on the first full day of the meeting to honor Dr. Endre A. Balazs, co-founder of ISER, who subsequently served as ISER’s Secretary and also President. [Dr. Balazs was also the founding Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Eye Research, the official journal of ISER, served in that position until 1991, and continues to be a member of its Editorial Board.] The Organizing Committee for the meeting, co-chaired by Drs. Olaf Strauss and Ernst Tamm, has put together a remarkable program of scientific sessions, plenary and social events. We are anticipating a large attendance at this meeting, with representation by scientists from more than 35 countries around the world. If you have not yet registered to attend the meeting, I strongly encourage you to do so. Hotels will fill up quickly, particularly as the abstract submission deadline (March 1, 2012) approaches. For more information about the 2012 ISER Biennial Meeting, go to: or

One of the more important items of business facing ISER in the coming year is the proposed reorganization of its governance structure and revisions to the ISER Bylaws. These issues have been on the ISER Council’s agenda for more than a year now, an effort largely spearheaded by Dr. Christine McGahan. Council is scheduled to review the proposed changes to its governance structure and Bylaws in May, 2012. The ISER membership will be appraised of the outcome of these deliberations by two methods: at the next scheduled ISER Business Meeting (which will take place during the 2012 ISER Biennial Meeting in July, 2012), as well as by email.

We are pleased to announce the release of ISER's newly redesigned website. Be sure to check out our fresh new look at

In closing, I’d like to recognize the competence, hard work, dedication and fine efforts of ISER’s office management team, San Francisco Association Management Services (SFAMS), particularly Marcella Ricci (Client Services Coordinator) and Polina Sfard (Client Services Manager). Most of the day-to-day management issues of the Society are facilitated by these two excellent staff members, who keep our Executive Committee and Council operations on-track and handle a wide variety of communications and logistics issues. Questions from the membership should be directed to them by email at:

I wish you all a very happy, healthy, productive, prosperous, and safe year, and I look forward to seeing you at the 2012 ISER Biennial Meeting in Berlin next July!


Steven J. Fliesler, PhD
ISER President

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2012 New Council and Membership Committee Members

ISER Welcomes Its Newest Members of The Council and Membership Committee:

  • Secretary: Tailoi Chan-Ling
  • Vice President (Europe): Ernst Tamm
  • Councilor (Europe): Olaf Strauss
  • Councilor (North America): David Hyde
  • Councilor (Pacific Rim): Takeshi Iwata
  • Membership Committee (Europe): Rudolf Fuchsofer and Xavier Gasull
  • Membership Committee (North America): Michael Elliott and Michael Lee Robinson
  • Membership Committee (Pacific Rim): Robert de Iongh

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Meet Your New Executive Committee

M. Christine McGahan, PhD

Dr. M. Chris McGahan, PhD

Dr. M. Chris McGahan, PhD

Dr. “Chris” McGahan is currently Professor of Pharmacology and Department Head, Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA. Her research focuses on the physiology and pathophysiology of iron metabolism in the eye. She has been continuously funded by NIH/NEI for 29 years and has over 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals. She served from 2001-2004 as a member of the VISA/AED NIH Study Section, and subsequently was appointed to the National Advisory Eye Council (2007-2010). Dr. McGahan also is an Editorial Board member for Experimental Eye Research. An active member of ISER for many years, having attended her first ICER meeting in 1976, Dr. McGahan has held four elected positions in the Society: Membership Committee for North America, Councilor for North America, Secretary, and now (as of January 1, 2012) Treasurer. In addition, she was a Physiology/Pharmacology Section organizer for the International Congress of Eye Research (ICER) in Paris, 1998, and in Argentina, 2006. Dr. McGahan also has been primarily responsible for reviewing and making recommendations to Council for changes in the governance structure of ISER.

Tailoi Chan-Ling, PhD

Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling, PhD

Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling, PhD

Dr. Chan-Ling, in her PhD studies focused on anterior eye, with a special interest in cataract surgery, corneal endothelial physiology and corneal innervation. Since receiving her PhD, her research has shifted to retinal cell biology with particular interests in astrocyte, pericyte and endothelial biology, angiogenesis and more recently lymphangiogenesis. Her studies cover both normal development as well as changes in disease including ROP, AMD, cerebral malaria and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis.

Dr. Chan-Ling’s involvement with ISER has spanned over 2 decades, having acted as session organizer & speaker at various congresses including Helsinki, Paris, Buenos Aires and Beijing. In recent years, she was a member of the ISER Membership Committee (Pacific Rim), and has been a member the ISER 2010 Ad-Hoc Funding Task Force, the ISER Travel Fellowship Award Selection Committee 2010, The Paul Keyser Award Selection Committee 2010, as well as the Strategic Planning Group 2011.

Dr. Chan-Ling looks forward to the opportunity to work with Council and the Executive of ISER to implement the goals of ISER including a reinvigoration of the ISER membership, with future initiatives aimed at facilitating networking and career opportunities for young investigators who attend ISER Biennial Meetings, implementation of a mentoring program, changes in the governance structure to better define roles and functions of Councilors and membership committee members, ensuring that future meeting locations and content reflect the vibrant international nature of ISER, and improving electronic communication to membership and enhancing ISER web content.

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Awards and Prizes

In concurrence with the Biennial Meeting, every even year ISER offers four international prizes to individuals from the eye and vision research community. These awards are as follows:

Nominations are now open! Click here for more information, including nomination forms, guidelines and criteria, or go to the ISER Prizes and Awards page at

Nominations will close on February 1st, 2012.

Award nominations are accepted from ISER members, who may submit individuals from the eye and vision research community at large.

Travel Fellowships

We are pleased to announce that the ISER Travel Fellowship application process for Young Investigators is now open through March 1, 2012. Please review the eligibility criteria carefully. The eligibility criteria and the application are located on the ISER Web site under Biennial Meeting. Questions should be directed to the ISER office in San Francisco, CA, USA, 415-561-8569 or

We hope that ISER members will encourage Young Investigators to apply for a Travel Fellowship, in support of the participation of young scientists in ISER’s Berlin Biennial Meeting. We look forward to receiving applications for consideration.

Winners will be notified on April 24th, 2012.

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Dues Renewal

Please remember to pay your 2012 ISER Dues. Not sure if your dues have been paid? Please login to the My Profile section of the ISER Web site or contact ISER Secretariat ( to confirm your current status.

Member Benefits Include:

  • Affordable dues
  • Substantially reduced registration fees for ISER’s next Biennial Meeting in Berlin. This difference is so substantial that it is greater than the actual cost of the annual membership dues!
  • Reduced subscription rate for ISER's official journal, Experimental Eye Research
  • Free color in Experimental Eye Research
  • Publishing opportunities
  • Research prizes

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Lab Profiles

The Diabetic Eye Disease Laboratory
Department of Surgery and Regenerative Medicine Institute of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

The Diabetic Eye Disease Laboratory is part of Ophthalmology Research Laboratories directed by Alexander V. Ljubimov, PhD, at the Department of Surgery and Regenerative Medicine Institute of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA). The current NIH-funded research is centered on mechanisms of diabetic retinal and corneal disease.

Using adenovirus-driven c-met gene overexpression we corrected abnormal wound healing and protein expression abnormalities in human organ-cultured diabetic corneas. Similar normalization was seen after shRNA silencing of specific proteinases. We described reduced expression of corneal epithelial stem cell markers in diabetes and showed that c-met gene therapy brought their expression closer to normal. This technology is now being applied to normalize cultured epithelial stem cells. The study is being conducted by Dr. Mehrnoosh Saghizadeh.

Photo (from left to right):
Andrei Kramerov, Mehrnoosh Saghizadeh and Alex Ljubimov.

We also explore the role of a ubiquitous protein kinase CK2 in retinal angiogenesis. Using specific inhibitors, we were the first to show that this enzyme plays an important role in pathologic retinal neovascularization. Our recent data showed that CK2 inhibition suppressed the engraftment of endothelial progenitor cells into newly formed retinal capillaries in the mouse retinopathy model. This may be a new mechanism of action of antiangiogenic drugs. At the molecular level, CK2 inhibition causes profound changes of the actin cytoskeleton making the cells to round up. The study is being conducted by Dr. Andrei Kramerov, in collaboration with Dr. Maria Grant (University of Florida).

A pilot project in the lab deals with a new targeted drug delivery nanosystem based on polymalic acid, engineered in collaboration with Nanomedicine Research Center at the Department of Neurosurgery. It was shown previously to prolong survival of glioma-bearing animals. Preliminary data indicate that this system can accumulate at sites of neovascularization in a mouse model of wet age-related macular degeneration. We plan to apply this system carrying CK2 inhibitors to animal models of proliferative retinopathies.

This Lab Profile was submitted by ISER Member Dr. Alex Ljubimov, Chair of the Membership Committee from 2007-2011.

If you would like to submit a Lab Profile for a future ISER Eyes on The World issue, please email

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ISER 2012 Biennial Meeting - Berlin, Germany

Feature : The Tiergarten

The XX ISER Biennial Meeting will be held at the Maritim Hotel Berlin, located in Berlin’s center just steps away from the Tiergarten.

The Tiergarten is Berlin’s most central and largest park, near to the city’s major tourist attractions, its business center, and historical monuments to empire, war, and modern justice.

The Tiergarten—or Animal Garden from its history as a game reserve—covers more than two kilometers from Brandenburg Gate on the east to Kurfurstendamm and the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial on the west. The Reichstag anchors its northeast corner, overlooking the Spree River. At Tiergarten’s widest point you’ll walk through forests, formal gardens, around a lake, over a canal, and into the Berlin Zoo. Heavy wood picnic benches and barbecue pits sit beneath trees along the sidelines, and nearby you’ll find table tennis tables as well as formal gardens. An English garden in the northwest section under the shadow of Victoria Column hosts evening concerts through the summer season; across the park, an island garden almost hides behind tall trees near the Philharmonic Hall along the south perimeter.

The Tiergarten is located less than two blocks from the Maritim Hotel, so be sure to take a stroll in between sessions and have a look around. Remember, you need more than one day to explore all that the Tiergarten has to offer!

photo of the conference room photo of the conference room photo of the view

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