Last November, the Translational Retinal Research
& Therapies Symposium brought together a
group of internationally recognized scientists
and clinician scientists from the veterinary and
human medical fields. They presented the latest research
in areas including retinal disease gene discovery, disease
mechanisms, translational studies, and clinical applications.
The symposium was held in honor of Dr. Gustavo
Aguirre, V’68 (pictured above and at right), Professor of
Medical Genetics and Ophthalmology at Penn Vet, who
received the 2017 Proctor Medal from the Association
for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. The Proctor
Medal honors excellence in the basic or clinical sciences
as applied to ophthalmology, and Aguirre is the first
veterinarian to be granted the Medal in its 67-year history.
His research area is the molecular basis of inherited
blindness, and his approach to developing genetic therapies
for dogs with Leber’s congenital amaurosis has paved the
way to clinical trials in humans. He received the award
for his development of unique canine models of retinal
degeneration, which provides basic information about
their counterpart human diseases.
In addition to Aguirre, speakers included Dr. William
Beltran, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Penn
Vet; Dr. John Flannery, Professor of Optometry and
Vision Science at the University of California – Berkeley;
Dr. Alison Hardcastle, Professor of Molecular Genetics at
University College of London; Dr. Samuel G. Jacobson,
Professor of Ophthalmology at Scheie Eye Institute of the
University of Pennsylvania; and José-Alain Sahel, Chair
of the Department of Ophthalmology, University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine.