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Volume 2, Issue 2 / Spring 2012  

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

President's Message

Coming from Buffalo, NY, even though our winter has been relatively mild (by Buffalo standards, at least), I'm looking forward with great anticipation to spring, and even more to summer. I hope you all will be able to attend the upcoming XXth ISER Biennial Meeting in Berlin this coming July. The local organizers, section and session leaders have put together another outstanding scientific program, and the venue for the meeting, in one of the most exciting cities in Europe, promises to be spectacular.

A number of friends and colleagues have asked me this question: "Why should I join ISER?" [The subtext being, "What's the value to me of being an ISER member?" or "Why should I spend my time and money on membership, or attending the ISER meetings, when I have limited resources?"] I guess the answer to the question may vary from one person to another. For me, it’s really quite simple: it has to do with the enduring friendships and fruitful scientific collaborations I've made as a consequence of attending ISER meetings, as well as the ability to travel to parts of the world I had never been and that otherwise likely would not have gone. I was encouraged to join ISER and to attend my first ISER meeting by my former postdoctoral advisor, Joe Hollyfield—a former ISER President, longtime ISER member, and current Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Eye Research, ISER's official journal. That first (for me) ISER meeting was held in Alicante, Spain, in 1984. It was the first time I'd traveled outside the US, and it was an extremely enriching experience for me, culturally as well as scientifically. I'd attended various scientific meetings since the mid-70s by then, including meetings sponsored by ARVO, ASCB, ASBMB, and Society for Neuroscience, but that ISER meeting was the first time that I was able to attend every platform presentation and view every poster at a meeting! I also had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with some of the leading vision scientists in the world at the time—some of whom have been extremely influential in shaping the course of my professional career ever since. All this was as a consequence of the relatively small size and intimate setting of these meetings, as well as the kinds of people this type of meeting tends to attract. You can never predict what twists and turns your life will take, but I believe firmly that if it hadn't been for my attending that ISER meeting in 1984, I would not be where I am today. It was at that meeting in 1984 that I met Greg Hageman—then an assistant professor at the University of Southern California (USC) in the Anatomy & Cell Biology department. Greg and I had several conversations during the course of that meeting (usually accompanied by fine food and wine), having to do with protein glycosylation in the retina (the focus of my own research at the time), and we decided to collaborate on some experiments together. Subsequently, Greg left USC and moved to Saint Louis University, in 1987, to what was then called the Bethesda Eye Institute. He contacted me on several occasions, trying to recruit me to join the faculty there. At the time, I was living in Miami, working at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and St. Louis was just not on my radar screen. Nevertheless, Greg's efforts eventually succeeded, and I moved to St. Louis in 1988. The rest, as they say, is history—my professional career flourished in St. Louis over a 20-year period; my personal life also flourished, as I met and married my wife there (I wasn’t really looking…Who knew?). The thing is, Greg and I had each attended many other scientific meetings prior to that 1984 ISER meeting in Alicante; yet, we had never met each other or talked with one another until then. Life is funny that way.

Since 1984, most of my travels around the world have been as a consequence of attending ISER meetings. Stresa, Italy; Paris, France; Geneva, Switzerland; Sydney, Australia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Beijing, China; Montreal, Canada. Each time, I've been fortunate to meet and talk with people I'd never met or known before. Several of these people have become lifelong, highly valued friends and colleagues. My life has been irreversibly changed, for the better.

So, to Joe Hollyfield, who encouraged me to become an ISER member many years ago, and who has been extraordinarily supportive of my professional development ever since, I say, "Thank you!" To those of you who are mentors to graduate students, medical students or postdoctoral fellows, I encourage you to get them interested in becoming members of ISER and to support their attendance at ISER meetings. I also urge all of you who are current ISER members to annually renew your membership, and to attend our biennial meetings. It could pay off in ways you cannot even imagine; it most certainly did for me.


Steven J. Fliesler, PhD
ISER President

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Congratulations to the 2012 ISER Prize winners!
  • The 2012 Endre A. Balazs Prize: Dr. Gerard A. Lutty
  • The 2012 Ernst H. Bárány Prize: Dr. Peter Kador
  • The 2012 Retina Research Foundation's Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research:
    Dr. Robert E. Anderson
  • The Winner of the 2012 Ludwig von Sallmann Prize will be announced in May.


Endre A. Balazs, MD

The Endre A. Balazs Prize
The Council of ISER awards an International Prize to honor a distinguished scientist whose outstanding contributions provide significant progress in the field of experimental eye research. This prize, established in 1984, was named in honor of Endre A. Balazs for his distinguished work in eye research and his contributions to the organization of the International Society for Eye Research

Dr. Balazs' extensive list of accomplishments includes both co-founding and serving as a Past-President of the International Society for Eye-research, as well as co-founding Experimental Eye Research, the official journal of ISER, and acting as Editor-in-Chief for 29 years.

He is best known for his groundbreaking discoveries in utilizing hyaluronan for therapeutic purposes (e.g., Healon®). He is also the co-founder of Biotrics Inc, Biomatrix Inc, and the Matrix Charitable Institute Inc.

Currently Dr. Balazs is the acting President (and a founding member) of the International Society of Hyaluronan Sciences, and the Malcolm P. Aldrich Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ophthalmology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he continues to do research.


Ernst H. Bárány, MD

The Ernst H. Bárány Prize
The Council of ISER awards an International Prize in honor of Professor Ernst H. Bárány, MD, for his distinguished work in the field of ocular pharmacology. Established in 2002, this award is presented to a distinguished scientist who has made outstanding contributions in research that increases our understanding of ocular pharmacology directly related to or applicable to glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, or related retinal diseases.

Professor Bárány was the Head of the Pharmacology Department at Uppsala University from 1949-1977. Many young ophthalmologists received their research training in his department, where his personality made a lasting impact on experimental ophthalmology.

In 1962 he was the first European scientist to be awarded the Jonas S. Friedenwald Award by ARVO, and was the first foreign investigator to be invited to the Macy Conference on glaucoma held at Princeton, New Jersey.

Professor Bárány also was the first to propose, more than 35 years ago, that epinephrine facilitated aqueous outflow by altering the cytoskeleton and the shape of trabecular cells. Additionally, he was one of the first to fully appreciate the role played by the ciliary muscle in aqueous outflow.

A pioneer in identifying and characterizing the outward-directed transport systems of the ciliary body, Professor Bárány was also one of the first to appreciate the important role of the extracellular matrix in the trabecular meshwork.

The Retina Research Foundation's Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research

The Council of ISER accepted a proposal from the Retina Research Foundation (RRF), Houston, Texas, to present the Foundation's Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research at ISER's biennial congresses beginning in 1986. Nominees for and recipients of the award are selected by Foundation officials interacting with a committee appointed by the ISER Council.

Founded in 1969, Retina Research Foundation is a publicly supported, tax-exempt charitable organization that conducts an ongoing program of basic vision science research devoted to the retina and retinal diseases.

The Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research was created by the Directors of Retina Research Foundation and endowed by the Trustees of The Kayser Foundation to honor and perpetuate the memory of long-time friend and dedicated benefactor of RRF, Paul Kayser. Through this award both organizations are demonstrating the conviction they shared with Mr. Kayser that blindness caused by retinal disease is a global concern and must be addressed accordingly. It is thus the purpose of this award to foster greater awareness of the need for intensive study of the retina, its role in the visual process, and the retinal diseases that threaten and/or destroy eyesight by recognizing outstanding achievement and sustaining meritorious scientific investigations worldwide.

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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 website 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 Profile

The Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at Tufts University in Boston


Allen Taylor, PhD

The Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at Tufts University in Boston seeks to determine the primary causes of age related degeneration of the eye retina macula (AMD) and eye lens cataracts, the major blinding diseases of the elderly throughout the world. Virtually all elderly will get cataracts and about 30% will suffer from AMD. We use laboratory tests in human cohorts, animal models, cultured human and other mammalian lens or retina tissues, and lens and retina epithelial cells in culture. Often we seek guidance or corroboration regarding our approaches and findings from human clinical/epidemiological studies. The major research questions seek to define and understand
interrelationships between aging, regulation of lens protein metabolism, cytotoxicity, protease function and expression, and nutrition. A primary biochemical focus is identifying ubiquitin-dependent processes which are involved in the removal of photooxidized proteins.

This Lab Profile was submitted by Allen Taylor, PhD, Director of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research, Professor of Nutrition, Biochemistry, and Ophthalmology USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA.

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 XX Biennial Meeting – Berlin, Germany

The ISER XX Biennial Meeting is fast approaching. Thanks to the enormous efforts of the Scientific Section Organizers the preliminary program is outstanding. A Preliminary Timetable is available on the meeting website with up-to-date information on platform sessions. There is no doubt that the meeting will be a tremendous success. Early Bird registration closes on April 23, 2012. Register online today and save on your registration fees.

To read more about the ISER XX Biennial Meeting in Berlin, visit the meeting website.

Berlin, Germany: Getting Around

Public Transportation
The transportation system in Berlin is famous worldwide for its accessibility and efficiency. Between numerous busses, the S-Bahn (above-ground tram), and the U-Bahn (underground railway), the city offers a variety of public transportation options for visitors hoping to see as much as of Berlin as possible. Visitors are encouraged to purchase a Welcome Card, which includes unlimited use of public transportation, a guidebook, and discounts to various sites around the city.

Check the Visit Berlin website for more information on public transportation in Berlin.

Like most major cities, Berlin has thousands of taxis available for both short and long journeys; and like most major cities, there are rules and etiquette to hiring a taxi.

For those of you who prefer to get around on two wheels, you will be happy to find that Berlin is a bike-friendly city with plenty of locations available for bike rentals and tours. Visit the BBBike website for a handy tool that helps map your bike route for start to destination.

Compared to other big cities, you may find that Berlin is a relatively stress-free city for the average driver. Paid parking is readily available and the flow of traffic is typically steady. For more information on parking, permits, renting a car or taking your own, check out the Visit Berlin website.

We look forward to seeing you in Berlin!

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

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