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Volume 3, Issue 2 / Spring 2013  

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

President's Message

In my prior message (Winter 2013, Vol. 3, No. 1), the U.S. was allegedly teetering on the edge of a "fiscal cliff". While we seem to have barely avoided that fiasco (or, more realistically, simply kicked it down the road a bit), the U.S. federal government is now in the throws of "sequestration". We have yet to see how that all will shake out. Despite this, I'm happy to report that ISER is thriving as an organization, and that several new initiatives are underway that will enhance the functionality of ISER and offer additional benefits to the membership.

Some of the new things going on have to do with our governance restructuring. In particular, we've been giving our Vice-Presidents additional responsibilities with regard to committee activities. I'm pleased to announce that Dr. Allen Taylor (Tufts University, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, MA, U.S.A.), Vice-President (Americas), is chairing the Membership Committee. The others members of this important committee (and their geographic representation areas) are: Dr. Rudolf Fuchshofer (University of Regensburg; Europe), Dr. Xavier Gasull (University of Barcelona; Europe); Dr. Michael Elliott (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; Americas), Dr. Michael Robinson (Miami University; Americas), Dr. Robbert De Iongh (University of Melbourne; Asia-Pacific), and Dr. Frank Lovicu (University of Sydney; Asia-Pacific). This committee's charge is to help sustain and increase ISER membership, to promote the development of Young Investigators (YIs), to select travel awardees to facilitate YIs attendance at ISER meetings, and to organize activities at ISER meetings that will promote ISER and enhance its value to the membership. One of the enhancements we've undertaken in the past year is the creation of a Mentoring Program for YIs (see column by Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling, this issue). Another is the featuring of ISER investigators and their labs under the "Lab Profile" column in each issue of the Newsletter. If *YOU* have suggestions for how ISER can better serve its membership, please forward those suggestions to

Several announcements have gone out via E-blast to our membership regarding the upcoming 2013 ISER Sarasota Symposium (Molecular Mechanisms in Glaucoma; Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2013). In addition, planning for the scientific program of ISER 2014 - the XXI Biennial Meeting of ISER - is now underway (July 20-24, 2014, San Francisco, CA), and the membership recently has been solicited by E-blast to submit their suggestions for topical sessions and symposia. Drs. David S. Williams and Suraj Bhat, both of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA, are the Program Chairs for that meeting. If you are interested in suggesting topics or sessions, please do so by completing the online form.

In addition, we are already looking toward the 2016 Biennial Meeting. Council is currently considering venues as well as professional congress organizers, and this will be a key item of discussion at the upcoming Council Meeting, which will take place immediately prior to the ARVO Annual Meeting (May, 2013) in Seattle. As the 2012 meeting was held in Europe and the 2014 meeting will be held in the U.S., the 2016 meeting will take place at an Asia-Pacific location (to be determined).

In closing, as I write this message, many places in northern climates throughout the world are either still fully entrenched in Winter's grasp, or are slowly emerging from it. Where I live in Western New York (Buffalo -- rhymes with "snow"), the crocuses, tulips, and daffodils are just now sending up their green shoots, breaking out through the occasional light patches of snow and ice still present on the ground. But already the birds are returning from their southerly migrations, the rivers, lakes and streams are almost all thawed and freely flowing again -- Spring is in the air (at long last)! I wish you all a most pleasant Spring, and look forward to seeing you at upcoming ISER events.


Steven J. Fliesler, PhD
ISER President

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Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling

Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling

Mentoring Program

The ISER mentoring program is up and running with 24 individuals registered so far who have indicated their willingness to act as mentors for our ISER membership. There are centuries of collective wisdom amongst their ranks, so I encourage all ISER members to consider taking advantage of this wonderful resource. Many of us can benefit from mentorship, no matter at what stage we are in our careers.

This is an opportunity to obtain advice beyond your institutional colleagues/boundaries on matters such as inter-institutional and international collaborations, manuscript and grant writing/reviewing opportunities, research tools and methods, strategies for success as a clinician-scientist, strategies for improving your skill set, as well as other topics related to your professional development.

I would also like to take this opportunity to provide some sage advice on how to be a great mentor- from Eve Ash, of

Start by building a strong and trusting relationship
Be a great listener and ask good quality open questions. 

A strong analytical mind
A mentor needs to look beyond what is being presented and to spot trends or problems before they engulf the mentee. 

The ability to confront
It's best to be up front from the start and agree that honesty is the best approach and that we all learn best from critical feedback. 

The ability to encourage
Knowing the right time to say "push through" compared to saying "it's time to change tack" is an essential skill for mentors. The best thing a mentor does is to keep a mentee on track. It's also important to be open about your own performance as a mentor– ask for feedback, and be honest about your limitations.

How to Become a Mentee

The mentee should put together a biographical sketch including current areas of interest, a list of topics on which you seek advice, 2-3 names of preferred mentors from our list and submit these details to the ISER Office (Email: The ISER Secretary will review each mentee's submission and will assign a mentor to each mentee.

If you would like to offer your services as a mentor, please contact the ISER Office at the email address given above. View more info >

- Tailoi Chan-Ling (ISER Secretary)

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Register and Submit Your Abstract, Today!

2013 Sarasota Symposium - Sept 29-Oct 2

2013 ISER Sarasota Symposium
September 29 - October 2
Hyatt Regency Sarasota
1000 Boulevard of the Arts
Sarasota, FL 34236

Please join us for innovative scientific programming focused on Molecular Mechanisms in Glaucoma. The ISER Sarasota Symposium will bring together leaders in the field of glaucoma to discuss molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathobiology of the condition. We will employ a Gordon Conference format, anticipating that the intimate setting will encourage informal interaction and will offer ample opportunity to refresh or form new collaborations, develop novel hypotheses, and make new friends.

Registration and abstract submission sites are now open. Take an active role in the 2013 ISER Sarasota Symposium by submitting your abstract today.

The program will feature world-class keynote speakers and hot topics that include:

  • Biomechanics
  • Immune modulation of disease
  • Cell injury/recovery
  • Matrix biology
  • Mouse models
  • Cell/tissue regeneration

Invited keynote speakers include:
Marie-Luce Bochaton-Piallat, PhD
Claude F. Burgoyne, MD
David L. Epstein, MD
Simon W.M. John, PhD
Helmut Kettenmann, PhD
Harry Quigley, MD

Important Dates

  • May 16, 2013 - Travel Fellowship submission deadline
  • May 27, 2013 - Abstract submission deadline
  • June 12, 2013 - Notification of abstract acceptance

For more information on the 2013 ISER Sarasota Symposium please visit our website.

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Dues Renewal

Please remember to pay your 2013 ISER Dues. Not sure if your dues have been paid? Please login to the My Profile section of the ISER website or contact the ISER Secretariat ( to confirm your current status.

Member benefits include:

  • Affordable dues
  • Substantially reduced registration fees for ISER meetings
  • 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

Mike Karl lab

Laboratory of Mike O. Karl Development, Degeneration & Regeneration of the Retina DZNE - German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases

  Moka Lab

Our lab is focused on understanding basic mechanisms of neuronal development, degeneration and regeneration. Our model system is the mammalian retina - hence we study retinal cells throughout their life, from embryonic stem cells to retinal progenitors to differentiating and mature neurons and glia - with an eye on neuronal regeneration (meaning de-novo neurogenesis) - and with another eye on retinal disease pathomechanisms. The major strategy will be to gain new insight in seminal mechanisms by combining studies and techniques employed in embryonic development, regeneration and neurobiology of neuronal degeneration. A major ultimate goal is to understand the limitations of neuronal repair as well as to discover novel ways to circumvent or better prevent these limitations. Personally, I have always been fascinated by the basic cell biology of cellular phenotype stability and plasticity. To give an example of ongoing projects in the lab we are currently investigating the cell reprogramming of retinal cells in two very different approaches: one - we manipulate cells by defined strategies using gene reprogramming; and two - we investigate cell spontaneous phenotypic changes and associated genetic reprogramming during retinal degenerations. Further, we investigate potential retinal endogenous processes that may provide neuroprotection upon injury as well as we thrive to generate models to study regeneration and degeneration.

Research interests of the Laboratory of Mike O. Karl
Development, Degeneration & Regeneration of the Retina.
DZNE - German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases e.V.
Arnoldstrasse 18, 01307 Dresden, Germany
DFG Research Center – Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden
Technische Universität Dresden
Fetscherstrasse 105, 01307 Dresden, Germany

Phone: +49-351-210 463 19
Phone: +49-351-458 82205
Fax: +49-351-458-82209

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

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