A joint program of UPMC Eye Center and University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration is the first national, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary research and clinical program dedicated to the new field of ocular regenerative medicine. The Fox Center specializes in the most common disease areas associated with vision loss, including macular disease, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, optic nerve disorders, corneal scarring, and ocular trauma. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine director Alan Russell, PhD, and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Joel Schuman, MD, serve as co-directors of the Fox Center. Dr. Schuman notes, "This center is a little different, because it's very specific to regenerative medicine and ophthalmology, with a target of taking the basic science into clinical practice. It's more like a mission than regular, normal science."
Peter Hart, University Times, recently reported on the cutting-edge research activities of the scientists of the Fox Center. Ongoing efforts include investigations centered on:
- Biosynthetic corneas (James Funderburgh, PhD)
- Curing glaucoma (Yiqin Du, PhD, James Funderburgh, PhD, and Joel Schuman, MD)
- Retina regeneration (Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD)
- Sensory substitution (Amy Nau, OD)
- Eye transplantation (Vijay Gorantla, MD, PhD)
With so many forward-looking opportunities and so much promise for extraordinary developments in eye disease treatments, Dr. Schuman is cautiously optimistic. "Imagine that instead of having a scar that you can have restoration of normal tissue again. That analogy works throughout the body," he said. "So the expectations would become you're not going to do just regular healing of scars, you're going to do 'constructive healing.' It's actually being able to get the tissue to repair itself to where it was before it was injured."
The Fox Center will hold its first annual conference, "Vision Restoration: Regenerative Medicine in Ophthalmology," on May 26-27, 2011, at the University Club in Pittsburgh. Additional information is available here.
Researchers and clinicians from around the world will gather to share ideas and solutions about how to restore lost vision. In the time it takes for the conference to be held, thousands of people around the world will become blind. The conference is focused on accelerating the pace at which we can respond to vision loss with cures. Regenerative Ophthalmology is still developing as a field. By launching an annual gathering of the world's leaders, the Fox Center hopes to provide an environment in which the field can rapidly mature.
The program, also a Continuing Medical Education Course, includes distinguished speakers from Europe, Asia, and the United States, a prestigious industry speaker, a poster session, and industry exhibits.