Newswise — August 22, 2023, Boston, Mass. — On August 18 and 19, Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) in partnership with Richard and Carolyn Sloane sponsored a two-day catalyst meeting here titled “Solving Neurodegeneration 2.” The meeting brought together many of the top scientific experts in the field of neurodegeneration and glaucoma to share ideas and learn from each other with the hope of generating new ideas and research collaborations.

“Our goal for this catalyst meeting was to spark some new ideas and approaches to solving neurodegeneration and also to produce a white paper to capture these ideas for future publication,” said Thomas M. Brunner, President and CEO of Glaucoma Research Foundation. “We are grateful to Carolyn and Richard Sloane for suggesting we convene the scientists involved in our two Catalyst for a Cure collaborative research initiatives for this unique catalyst meeting , and for co-sponsoring the meeting,” he added. 

Participants included principal investigators from the two current GRF-funded Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) collaborative research initiatives: the Steven and Michele Kirsch Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative (CFC3), and the Melza M. and Frank Theodore Barr Foundation Catalyst for a Cure Initiative to Prevent and Cure Neurodegeneration (CFC4).

CFC 3 principal investigators include Xin Duan, PhD, Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco, Yang Hu, MD, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine, Anna La Torre, PhD, University of California, Davis, and Derek Welsbie, MD, PhD, Shiley Eye Institute, University of California, San Diego. The CFC4 principal investigators are Sandro Da Mesquita, PhD, Mayo Clinic, Milica Margeta, MD, PhD, Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School, Karthik Shekhar, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, and Humsa Venkatesh, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Additional meeting participants included CFC3 Scientific Advisory Board members Larry Benowitz, PhD, Harvard University, University of Colorado, Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, PhD, Byers Eye Institute, Stanford University, and Zhigang He, PhD, Harvard University, along with CFC4 Scientific Advisory Board members Guojun Bu, PhD, International Society for Molecular Neurodegeneration, Adriana Di Polo, PhD, University of Montreal, Shane Liddelow, PhD, New York University, and Sally Temple, PhD, Scientific Director of the Neural Stem Cell Institute.

Four invited guest speakers presented keynote lectures to stimulate further discussion —Michel Cayouette, PhD, Vice-President, Research and Academic Affairs, and Director, Cellular Neurobiology Research Unit at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM), Aaron DiAntonio, MD, PhD, Professor of Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis, Francisco Quintana, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Beth Stevens, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor of Neurology at the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Boston Children's Hospital.

At the meeting each of the participants presented their new, unpublished research results to the rest of the group, followed by group discussions in which novel, unconventional ideas were encouraged. This year’s meeting was developed in response to a successful initial “Solving Neurodegeneration” Catalyst Meeting that took place in April 2021, in San Francisco, California.

This year’s Catalyst Meeting in Boston was chaired by John Flanagan, PhD, DSc, FCOptom, Dean and Professor, School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and Chair of GRF’s Research Committee. “Both of the Catalyst for a Cure research teams have the same overall goal of preventing vision loss from glaucoma,” Dr. Flanagan said. “The CFC3 Vision Restoration team is primarily concerned with restoring vision cells lost through neurodegeneration, while the CFC4 Neurodegeneration Initiative is looking at how neuronal death can be prevented, stopped, or reversed,” he explained. “With this latest in-person Catalyst Meeting, we are encouraging further collaboration between the two teams and their advisors,” he said.

Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma. GRF funds glaucoma research worldwide and serves as the leading information source for patients and their families. Founded in 1978 in San Francisco, GRF was created to encourage innovative research to find better ways to care for people with glaucoma — the leading cause of preventable blindness. Since its inception, GRF has invested $90 million to fund breakthrough research to better understand, detect, and treat glaucoma. Learn more at


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