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Volume 3, Issue 4 / Fall 2013  

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

Dr. Steven J. Fliesler

President's Message

As I write this column (Oct. 2013), many of us across the U.S., especially in the northern states, are experiencing "Indian Summer"-- unusually mild, even warm, weather, instead of the more characteristic chill in the air that normally accompanies the Fall (at least for those in the Northern Hemisphere). Those of us who work in a university or college environment are well into the Fall semester of teaching and other academic activities. Before you know it, Fall will give way to Winter, and the "holiday season" will be upon us. [We can only hope that by then, the U.S. government — which is currently "shut down" due to political in-fighting in Congress — will have provided an operating budget for the next fiscal year and will have addressed the debt ceiling crisis looming over us at present.]

Probably the most significant recent event I have to report is that the inaugural ISER Sarasota Symposium was held Sept. 29 – Oct. 2, and by all accounts it was a huge success! 2013 marks the first time ISER has held an "off-year" meeting (as distinct from our regular Biennial Meetings, which are held in even-numbered years). The topic of this year's Symposium was "Molecular Mechanisms in Glaucoma." The Program Committee consisted of Dr. Ernst Tamm (Chair; Germany), Dr. Tailoi Chan-Ling (ISER Secretary; Australia), Dr. Takeshi Iwata (Councilor, Asia-Pacific; Japan), Dr. Mike Fautsch (USA), Dr. Rob Nickells (USA) and Dr. Dan Stamer (USA). The meeting was attended by 120 scientists and clinicians from around the world, with a mix of both established investigators as well as some relatively new to the field. Topics ranged from matrix biology to biomechanics, from cellular injury and recovery to cell and tissue regeneration, from cytoskeleton dynamics to autophagy, and from the role of glia to mouse models of glaucoma, to name but a few. Twelve platform sessions, interspersed with poster sessions at coffee breaks, were included over the 3-day course of the meeting. Six invited keynote speakers, representing a veritable "Who's Who" in glaucoma research, included: Dr. Marie-Luce Bochaton-Piallat (Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva; Switzerland); Dr. Claude F. Burgoyne (Devers Eye Institute; USA); Dr. David L. Epstein (Duke Eye Center, Duke University; USA); Dr. Simon W.M. John (HHMI and The Jackson Laboratory; USA); Dr. Helmut Kettenmann (Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine; Germany); and Dr. Harry Quigley (Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University; USA). As one attendee commented, "This meeting represents one of the few times that the 'back-of-the-eye' [optic nerve] and 'front-of-the-eye' [trabecular meshwork] people actually talked with one another in the same venue!" (It just goes to show you, miracles do happen.) I'm particularly gratified to note that ISER was able to provide Travel Fellowships to 8 young investigators, to facilitate their attendance and presentations at the Symposium. ISER gratefully acknowledges our corporate sponsors — BrightFocus Foundation, Heidelberg Engineering, Inc., Novartis, and Santen — whose generous support enabled us to provide Travel Fellowships as well as our ability to conduct this Symposium. Council will be reviewing the feasibility of supporting future such "off-year" meetings, as well as whether or not we should maintain a single disease-based theme (e.g., glaucoma) or expand the theme to encompass other topic areas of interest to the ISER membership. We encourage the membership to weigh in on this issue; send your comments and suggestions to: with "Off-Year Meetings" on the Subject line of your Email.

Organization of the scientific program for the XXI Biennial Meeting of ISER (July 20-24, 2014, San Francisco, CA) is nearing the final stages of completion. I'd like to thank the many ISER members who, in response to E-blasts from ISER, contributed topical ideas for the platform sessions of the Biennial Meeting. Drs. David S. Williams and Suraj Bhat, both of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA, are the Program Chairs for the meeting. I highly encourage all eye and vision researchers to attend what promises to be a phenomenal meeting.

We are already thinking ahead toward the 2016 Biennial Meeting, for which the location now has been finalized: Tokyo, Japan. Dates and exact conference site are yet to be determined, but should be finalized by the next full meeting of the ISER Council, which will take place in May, 2014. We look forward to your attendance at that meeting as well.


Steven J. Fliesler, PhD

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ISER Elections

ISER is currently holding elections for the following positions:

Vice President (Americas - 1)
Vice President (Asia Pacific - 1)

To view candidates statements please click here.

ISER members received an electronic ballot via email.

Members can only vote once; duplicate entries will be disqualified. The election is open through October 22, 2013.

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Save the Date!

ISER XXI Biennial Meeting - San Francisco, CA


JULY 20 – 24, 2014

We are pleased to announce the XXI Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER), which will be held in San Francisco in 2014.

The XXI Biennial Meeting will feature a stimulating scientific program, focusing on key topics in the field of vision research. These topics include:

  • Cornea & Ocular Surface
  • Glaucoma
  • Ocular Immunology
  • Lens
  • RPE Biology & Pathology
  • Physiology & Pharmacology
  • Optical Imaging, Physiological Optics
  • Retinal Cell Biology
  • Retinal Neuroscience
  • Strabismus & Amblyopia

Meeting highlights include:

  • Stimulating Scientific Program
  • Interdisciplinary Symposia
  • Plenary Lectures
  • Poster Sessions
  • Social Events
  • Generous Time for Informal Interaction & Networking

Mark your calendar for the following important dates:

  • November 5, 2013 – Abstract Submission, Early Bird Registration and Hotel Reservations at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco at Embarcadero Open
  • March 5, 2014 – Abstract Submission Closes

> Add ISER Biennial Meeting dates to your calendar

Join us in San Francisco to advance your knowledge, discuss and disseminate key scientific breakthroughs, and network with world leaders in the field of eye research.

We look forward to seeing you in The City by the Bay!

XXI Biennial Meeting Program Chairs:
Suraj Bhat, PhD and David Williams, PhD
Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA

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2013 ISER Sarasota Symposium - Thank you!

Thank you to all who attended and participated in the 2013 ISER Sarasota Symposium, September 29 – October 2 in Sarasota, Florida! The ISER Sarasota Symposium brought together leaders in the field of glaucoma to discuss molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathobiology of the condition.

2013 Symposium Abstracts are available in PDF format here.

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Lab Profile

Wilcox Lab

Mr. Debarun Dutta (PhD student - antimicrobial lenses); Dr. Ajay Vijay (postdoctoral fellow - microbiology and optometry); Dr. Ren Chen (postdoctoral fellow - chemistry); Ms. Andrea Leong (PhD student - antimicrobial and tissue integrative surfaces); Professor Mark Willcox; Mr. Jran Ozkan (PhD student - adverse events during contact lens wear); Ms. Athira Rohit (PhD student - effect of lipid supplementation on comfort during contact lens wear); Ms. Simin Masoudi (PhD student - tear film and ocular comfort during contact lens wear); Mr. Alex Hui (visiting PhD student [University of Waterloo, Canada] - drug delivery from contact lenses).

Laboratory of Professor Mark Willcox, School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

My laboratory focuses on the ocular surface, the ocular microbiome and the interactions with contact lenses. We have been particularly interested in the effect of contact lenses on the ocular microbiome, and the development of contact-lens related keratitis. We have demonstrated that bacterial contamination of contact lenses leads to the production of keratitis during lens wear, and have then moved on to develop antimicrobial surfaces for contact lenses (and other biomaterials) to combat this problem. Several of these surfaces are currently in laboratory, animal and clinical testing. Another aspect of contact lens research has been our focus on comfort during lens wear. We have previously identified reduction in tear film volume and changes to proteins and lipids in the tears as mediators of intolerance to contact lenses. Our current research uses sophisticated lipidomic, proteomic and glycomic techniques (mostly based on mass spectrometry) to further probe the biochemical changes to tears that might be related to contact lens intolerance/discomfort. We are also involved in clinical trials of contact lenses and contact lens disinfecting solutions, and biomarker discovery using tears as the source.

Contact Professor Mark Willcox
School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
Tel: +61293854164
Fax: +61293136243

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

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