National Advisory Eye Council Welcomes Three New Members

Article ID: 641097

Released: 8-Oct-2015 11:05 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: NIH, National Eye Institute (NEI)

Newswise — The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of NIH, has appointed three new members to the National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC) who are attending their first NAEC meeting as council members today. The NAEC provides guidance on research, training, and other NEI programs.

“Our new council members bring prodigious expertise,” said NEI director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. “They each have made major accomplishments in their respective fields, and we look forward to their input on strategies to advance the mission of NEI and the Audacious Goals Initiative.”

The Audacious Goals Initiative aims to restore vision through the regeneration of neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system. The central goal is to replace cells of the retina, the light-sensing tissue in the back of the eye, that have been damaged by disease or injury and to reconnect them to the visual centers of the brain. NEI has begun funding five projects to noninvasively image cells of the eye in unprecedented detail.

The three new members of the NAEC are as follows:

Steven Bassnett, Ph.D., Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis

Dr. Bassnett’s studies are aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms that determine the size and shape of the lenses in our eyes. Knowing more about the lens growth process is expected to provide insights into eye conditions such as cataract and presbyopia. Dr. Bassnett has been awarded several NEI grants, including an NEI Vision Science Core Grant (EY002687), and served as a peer reviewer for various NIH, NEI, and NAEC panels since 1997.

Jane E. Gwiazda, Ph.D., Professor of Vision Science and Director of Research, The New England College of Optometry, Boston

With a background in how vision develops in infants, Dr. Gwiazda’s current research includes both the risk factors and treatments of myopia, also known as nearsightedness. Recent results from her work suggest that the slower progression of myopia found in summer (approximately half that in winter) is related to children spending more time outdoors and fewer hours in school. Dr. Gwiazda has been awarded grants for research on risk factors for myopia for more than a decade. She is currently the lead and chair of the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET).

Douglas J. Rhee, M.D., Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland

Dr. Rhee is a glaucoma specialist, molecular biologist, and board-certified ophthalmologist. He cares for both adult and childhood glaucomas, with clinical research interests including the outcomes of both traditional and novel/advanced surgical procedures. In the laboratory, he has worked to understand and manipulate the fundamental factors outside cells in an area of the eye called the trabecular meshwork that regulates pressure inside the eye. He is a reviewer for a number of journals, including the American Journal of Ophthalmology, and is a leading educator of ophthalmologists.

For the full roster of council members, meeting agendas, and other NAEC information, visit

NEI leads the federal government's research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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