Newswise — WHAT:The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of NIH, is participating in the Inaugural Press Conference from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting (ARVO 2016), the largest gathering of eye and vision researchers in the world, attracting over 11,000 attendees from more than 75 countries. The press conference will feature major funders of eye and vision research, both public and private, who will outline the most promising science being presented at ARVO 2016.

NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. will discuss research advancing the NEI Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI), an NEI-funded effort to develop regenerative medicine for eye disease. The AGI is targeting diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, which can cause blindness by destroying neurons of retina and their connections to the brain. He will also highlight progress in stem cell and gene therapies, as well as the work of AGI-grantees developing imaging tools that show the retina and optic nerve in unprecedented detail.

• Stem cells. Kapil Bharti, Stadtman Investigator at NEI, is among those presenting novel cell therapies for age-related macular degeneration.

• Gene editing. A new generation of gene therapies is moving beyond gene replacement. Several scientists at ARVO are harnessing CRISPR, the process by which bacteria recognize and destroy invading viruses, to edit and repair disease-causing mutations. For example, an NEI team has designed a CRISPR strategy aimed at rescuing vision in a mouse with retinal degeneration.

• Imaging technologies. Five AGI-funded projects are developing new technologies to noninvasively image cells of the eye in unprecedented detail. Several of the PIs for those projects are presenting at ARVO 2016.

WHO:Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Eye Institute

WHEN, WHERE, HOW:Monday, May 2, 10 to 10:55 a.m. Pacific Time (1:55 p.m. Eastern Time)In person: ARVO 2016 Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington (Room 6E of the Washington State Convention Center)Live stream:

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 and address special needs of people with vision loss. 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 NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®