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ARVO sets stage for virtual event

Digital EditionOphthalmology Times: April 1, 2021
Volume 46
Issue 6

‘Revolutionary Eye and Vision Research’ theme of annual meeting.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) will hold its annual meeting for 2021 in a virtual format from Saturday, May 1, to Friday, May 7.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ARVO will present its sessions on the Pathable online platform.

Although 3 COVID-19 vaccines have been granted emergency use authorization by the United States Food and Drug Administration, the pandemic continues to affect in-person meetings.

In December, ARVO announced plans to move its 2021 annual meeting to a fully virtual format. The event had originally been scheduled for early May in San Francisco, California.

According to Julene Joy, CAE, ARVO’s chief marketing and communications officer, the theme of the 2021 ARVO annual meeting is “Revolutionary Eye and Vision Research.”

“Innovation and advanced technologies have fostered significant discoveries in eye and vision research in the last decade rivaling those in any discipline,” Joy said. “The theme of the 2021 ARVO annual meeting is the next revolution of clinically translating these discoveries to restore and preserve vision.”

Joy noted that while virtual conferences can result in long hours, ARVO is alleviating some of that stress with the “Month of ARVO.”

This will include:

> Saturday, May 1 – Friday, May 7, 2021: ARVO Annual Meeting

> Thursday, May 13 – Friday, May 14, 2021: Imaging in the Eye Conference

> Thursday, May 20 – Friday, May 21, 2021: Bench to Bedside Meeting

According to Joy, all meeting content and materials will be accessible until Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

In a virtual setting, Joy said, attendees can still expect the meeting they know and look forward to every year.

“Poster and paper presentations, keynote addresses, award lectures, and special events like ARVO’s Got Talent, the ARVO Foundation Gala and the WEAVR Luncheon are adapting to meet the moment,” she said. “Attendees can also expect to still be able to engage with a lively exhibit hall and explore new products and information from our impressive list of exhibitors. Live chat and exhibitor demonstrations will ensure that nothing is missing in the virtual experience.”

The ARVO staff, led by Executive Director Iris M. Rush, CAE, has met the challenges associated with hosting a virtual event amid the pandemic.

“ARVO’s Board of Trustees was quick to prioritize the health and safety of our members, and the decision to go fully virtual was made well in advance, allowing plenty of time for members and staff alike to prepare,” Joy said. “ARVO staff has worked closely with leadership, stakeholders, vendors and our platform provider, Pathable, for months to ensure that we are still providing a premier annual meeting experience with all the features, networking, and learning that our attendees have come to expect.”

Here are some highlights from this year’s program, including keynotes and lectures:

As in years past, ARVO/Alcon Keynote Lectures will bookend the opening and closing days, offering a chance for attendees to focus on key points of the meeting theme and find out how research continues to affect the way they treat patients.

Saturday, May 1, 9 AM to 10 AM

Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, BJC investigator, Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Immunology; professor of neurology, neuroscience and neurosurgery; and director, Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, will present the opening keynote.

Kipnis’ research focuses on the interactions between the immune system and the central nervous system.

As part of its work, his team has detailed how human brain function relies, in large part, on the mechanisms of the immune system and how immune molecules (cytokines) play a key role in neuromodality. The work of the team can have an impact on Alzheimer disease, autism, and multiple sclerosis.

Kipnis is a graduate of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. At the institute, he was a Sir Charles Clore scholar and received a distinguished prize for scientific achievements awarded by the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.

In 2018 he received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award to explore in more depth neuro-immune interactions in healthy and diseased brains.

Friday, May 7, 9 AM to 10 AM

Delivering the closing keynote address at the ARVO virtual conference is Helen Blau, PhD, the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Foundation Professor of Stem Cell Biology, and director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Blau’s work centers around stem cells, and her focus has been on nuclear reprogramming and the demonstration of the plasticity of cell fate using cell fusion.

During her career, she has served on the Ellison Medical Foundation Scientific Advisory Board and the Harvard Board of Overseers.

Blau is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

According to ARVO, the 2021 Basic Clinical Lecture will be presented to clinical researchers from a basic perspective. Titled “Transcriptional Dynamics in Eye Development and Disease,” organizers include Elfride De Baere, Carlo Rivolta, and Stephany Hagstrom.

Speakers include Anand Swaroop, PhD; Sandro Banfi; Janey Wiggs, MD, PhD; Timothy Cherry, PhD; Seth Blackshaw, PhD; and Magdalena Renner.

The panel will discuss some advances in RNA biology in the eye and transcriptional misregulation as cause of different eye diseases.

The speakers also will shed light on diagnostic strategies and the role of RNA molecules as biomarkers and as targets for novel therapeutic approaches.

The 2021 ARVO Foundation Gala will be held virtually from 7 PM to 8 PM Sunday, May 2. The event will be open to all ARVO 2021 registrants at no additional fee to attend. ARVO will host its first ARVO’s Got Talent competition during the event.

The grand prize winner and runner-up videos will be announced and aired during the event. ARVO officials will score the videos and share the highest-scoring entries on the annual meeting virtual platform, Pathable. Votes for the top videos will be accepted from April 15 to May 2.


COVID-19 and the Eye

Sunday, May 2, 9 AM to 11 AM

Speakers for this session include Luk Vandenberghe, PhD; Rupesh Agrawal, MD; Elia Duh, MD; Ashok Kumar, PhD; Timothy Blenkinsop, PhD; and Melanie Ott, MD, PhD.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a great deal of interest in understanding how the coronavirus affects the eye. This symposium will address the issue with a panel of researchers and clinicians focused on ocular and nonocular diseases of coronaviruses.

Epigenomics and Personalized Medicine: “Across the Globe”

Monday, May 3, 9 AM to 11 AM

Speakers for this symposium include Jayakrishna Ambati, MD; Tara Moore, PhD; Ales Cvekl, PhD; Renu Kowluru, PhD; Michael Dyer, MD; and Louise Porter, PhD.

This symposium features leading scientists who will share their latest research on the role epigenomics is playing not only during development but also in shaping future personalized medicine for ocular diseases involving tissues from the anterior and posterior segments, including corneal dystrophies, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

Epidemiology of Diabetic Retinopathy and Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Past, Present, and Future

Wednesday, May 5, 9 AM to 11 AM

Taking the stage for this session is a panel that includes Lloyd Paul Aiello, MD, PhD; Tien Wong, PhD; Barbara Klein, MD; Caroline Klaver, PhD; and Emily Chew, MD. The speakers will discuss past achievements, current challenges, and future research in risk, diagnosis, treatment, and management of DR and AMD.

Focus on the Fovea; What Makes the Fovea Unique?

Friday, May 7, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

This session will feature Dennis Dacey, PhD; Constance Cepko, PhD; Raunuk Sinha, PhD; Joseph Carroll, PhD; Cynthia Toth, PhD; and Christine Curcio, PhD. Using a range of techniques, members of the panel have studied the structure, physiology, and pathology of the fovea. The symposium is of interest to basic and clinical researchers.


Sunday, May 2, 3:45 PM to 5:30 PM

Childhood Vision Disorders: What is on the Horizon? (EY)
This session will feature Jonathan M. Holmes, MD, Eileen Birch, PhD, Ben Thompson, PhD, Fatema Ghasia, MD, Susan Cotter, OD, MS, FAAO, and Irene Gottlob, MD, PhD.

The panelists will discuss vision screening using retinal birefringence instrumentation; objective assessment of visual acuity for amblyopia detection; management of amblyopia with binocular treatment and monitored occlusion; impact of fixational eye movement abnormalities on visual function deficits and treatment outcomes in amblyopic children; utility of handheld OCT in children; nonsurgical optical treatments for intermittent exotropia and patient-reported outcome measures and emerging telemedicine approaches for children.

Ocular Tissue Mechanics, Homeostasis, and Diseases (LE)
Scheduled participants include Valerie M. Weaver, PhD, Velia Fowler, PhD, Xiaohua Gong, PhD, P. Vasantha Rao, PhD, David Križaj, PhD and Sara Thomasy, PhD.

They will highlight advances in the understanding of the mechanobiology of ocular cells and tissues including the cornea, trabecular meshwork, and lens, and the role(s) played by the extracellular matrix, cell adhesion machinery, actomyosin, ion channels, tensile properties, and mechanotranscription in regulation of structural integrity and functional homeostasis and in ocular disease.

Retinal plasticity in disease and regeneration (RC)
This minisymposium is scheduled to feature Daniel Goldman, MD, Stefanie Wohl, PhD, Bryan Jones, PhD, Tom Reh, PhD, Sai Chavala, MD, and Marla Feller, PhD, who will summarize the mechanisms of retinal plasticity, its dynamics, and selectivity during development and in disease models.

Tuesday, May 4, 12:30 PM to 2:15 PM

Aging and Immunity (IM)
Scheduled to share the podium for this session are Darragh Duffy, PhD, Cintia De Paiva, MD, PhD, Dong Feng Chen, MD, PhD, Heping Xu, MD, PhD, Douglas Jabs, MD, and Deborah Ferrington, PhD.

The panelists will elucidate the implications of aging and its interaction with the immune system on various ocular disorders and their mechanistic underpinnings.

Cellular Biomechanics in the Eye (GL)
This session will feature Jeffery Holt, MD, Darryl Overby, PhD, Judith West-Mays, PhD, Kate Keller, PhD, Ian Sigal, PhD, and Pedram Hamrah, MD.

The speakers will focus on recent advances in cellular and biophysical mechanisms involved in different aspects of biomechanics in the eye, with relevance to glaucoma, the cornea, and the lens.

Corneal Wound Healing: Basic Mechanisms and Therapeutic Approaches (CO)
This session will feature Fu-shin Yu, PhD, Krystel Huxlin, PhD, Matilda Chan, MD, Vivien Coulson-Thomas, PhD, Ali Djalilian, MD, and Arkasubhra Ghosh, PHD.

The panelists will offer an overview on molecular mechanisms and repair processes that govern corneal wound healing and present novel therapeutic strategies for facilitating corneal repair. This program offers information key to other ocular diseases that result from tissue injury.

State of Refraction: Etiology, Comorbidities, and Treatments for the Worldwide Myopia Epidemic (VI)
On the dais for this session is a panel that is scheduled to include Terri Young, MD, MBA, Kathryn Rose, PhD, Machelle Pardue, PhD, Jost Jonas, MD, Christine Wildsoet, OD, PhD, and Maria Liu OD, PhD.

They will discuss current and potential treatment options, including pharmacological and optical modalities.

Wednesday, May 5, 5 PM to 6:45 PM

Adverse Ocular Outcomes from Emerging Therapies: Mechanisms, Diagnoses, and Management
Speakers for this minisymposium include Stephen H. Tsang, MD, PhD, Tomas Aleman, MD, Alison Skalet, MD, PhD, Bahram Bodhaghi, MD, PhD, and Brian VanderBeek, MD. The panelists will discuss how emerging therapies produce untoward effects in the eye in varied ways.

Dopamine in the Retina (VN)
This session will feature Franklin Caval-Holme, PhD, Richard Lang, PhD, Morven Cameron, PhD, Christophe Ribelayga, Phd, Steven Barnes, PhD, and Erika Eggers, PhD.

The panelists will discuss recent results on how dopamine levels in the retina are controlled, the importance of dopamine for regulation of neuronal and vascular development. The speakers will detail how dopamine modulates retinal sensitivity in light adaptation and circadian rhythms.

Rho Kinase Inhibitors, a New Class of Treatment for Glaucoma and Corneal Disease (PH)
This panel will feature Casey Kopczynski, PhD, Haiyan Gong, MD, PhD, Arthur Sit, MD, Dan Stamer, PhD, Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, PhD, and Shigeru Kinoshita, MD, PhD.

Their presentations will include basic science research for understanding the underlying mechanisms and clinical experience with this new drug class.

Thursday, May 6, 9 AM to 10:45 AM

Genetics of Strabismus (EY)
Speakers will include Yutao Liu, MD, PhD, Markus Preising, MD, PhD, Mary C. Whitman, MD, PhD, Zia Chaudhuri, MS, Joseph L. Demer, MD, Elias Traboulsi, MD, and Mervyn G. Thomas MD. They will discuss genetic determinants for strabismus, which remain elusive.

Longer and Better Vision After Corneal Transplantation for Patients: From Bench to Bedside (CO)
Speakers for this session will include Reza Dana, MD, Jerry Niederkorn, PhD, Pedram Hamrah, MD, Junko Hori, PhD, Shigeru Kinoshita, MD, PhD, Claus Cursiefen, MD, PhD, and Takefumi Yamaguchi, MD, PhD.

The focus of the speakers is to outline some of the latest knowledge on immunology, neuroimaging, and visual optics in corneal diseases and transplantation.

Novel Biomaterials for Ocular Diseases (CO)
This mini-symposium will feature May Griffith, PhD, Thomas Fuchsluger, MD, Gerd Auffahrt, MD, Uday Kompella, PhD, Jui-Yang Lai, PhD, and Maribel Vazquez, OD.

The event brings together 6 sections within ARVO, including cornea, lens, pharmacology, glaucoma, and retina. The speakers scheduled for this session will discuss the latest trends involving drug delivery and clinical translation.

Teleophthalmology, the New Normal in a Post-COVID Context (CL)
Scheduled speakers include Anthony Vipin Das, MD, Alex Charter Taleb, MD, PhD, Renata Puertas, MD, Tunde Peto, PhD, Gabriela Saidman, MD, and Sheila John, MD. They will discuss the basics regarding how to start a program and ensuring its quality.

During the session, the panelists also will report on successful new models of eye care delivery and their impact on preventing blindness by detecting significant eye diseases such as glaucoma, DR, AMD, ROP, and cataracts, as well as the the post-COVID-19 challenges, and where future research lies in regard to emerging technologies available.

Thursday, May 6, 3:30 PM to 5:15 PM

Cell Biology of the Homeostasis of the Choroid (RC)
Sharing the stage will be Barbara Braunger, PhD, Patricia D’Amore, PhD, MBA, Bela Anand-Apte, PhD, Robert Mullins, PhD, Gerard A. Lutty PhD, and Wai Wong, MD, PhD.

The panel for this minisymposium will focus on some of the newly identified mechanisms that contribute to tissue homeostasis and regulate cell-cell interactions in the choroid.

Making Sense of Ocular Surface Pain (CO)
This session will feature Anat Galor, Steven Pflugfelder, Pedram Hamrah, MD, Randy Kardon, MD, PhD, Juanita Gallar PhD, and Konstantinos D. Sarantopoulo, MD, PhD.

During the presentation, this panel will focus on current knowledge and outline current research directions that will lead to improved diagnosis and management of ocular surface pain.

Single Cell RNA-Sequencing Revolution Part II: Applications, Biology, and Clinical Relevance (IM)
This minisymposium will feature Tavé van Zyl, MD, Robert Lavker, PhD, Daniel Saban, PhD, Kapil Bharti, PhD, Thomas Reh, PhD, and Filip Swirski, PhD. During this session, the participants will discuss research approaches using scRNA-seq and cutting edge bioinformatic pipelines.

Topics to be covered during the session include stem cells, immune cells, primary human cells, iPSCs and organoids of the cornea, trabecular meshwork, retina, and retinal pigment epithelium.

The featured speakers during this symposium include Ruth Ashery-Padan, PhD, Ales Cvekl, PhD, Cheryl Gregory-Evans, PhD, Melinda K. Duncan, PhD, Neil Lagali, PhD, and Christopher Riemann, MD. During this session, the panelists will discuss the roles of PAX6 in tissue development and attempts to relate these functions with the progressive eye diseases experienced by aniridia patients as they age.

For ophthalmologists whose interests cannot be simply defined in a single section, the cross-sectional platform sessions offer a range of options. These will include:

Functional Analysis of Non-Coding Genetic Defects Underlying Inherited Ophthalmic Disease (GEN)
The panel for this section includes Ayellet Segrè, PhD, Elfride de Beare, MD, PhD, Jayshree Advani, PhD, Suzanne de Bruijn, PhD, and Philippe Mourrain, PhD. These researchers are investigating a broad range of inherited eye disorders. They will present their novel and recent functional genomic discoveries.

Technologies for Visual Enhancement in 2021 and Beyond (LV)
This section features Eli Peli, OD, Ava Bittner, OD, PhD, Chris McCarthy, MD, Marie-Celine Lorenzini, PhD, and Ashley Deemer, OD. They will cover topics in robotics, virtual reality, and image enhancement via head-mounted display technology and computer vision algorithms used in implantable technologies.

In Vivo Theranostic Platforms for Monitoring and Activation of Ocular Therapies (MOI)
The panel will include Robert J. Zawadzki, PhD, Artur V. Cideciyan, PhD, Jennifer J. Kang-Mieler, PhD, Karl G. Csaky, MD, PhD, Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth, MD, and M. Valeria Canto-Soler, PhD. During the section, the speakers will bring together both animal and human studies that show promising therapeutic effects of these novel therapies and explore optical tools allowing its monitoring and activation.

The virtual 2021 Women in Eye and Vision Research (WEAVR) Luncheon will be held from 1:15 PM to 3:15 PM Monday, May 3. The event, which will include a keynote address, will be open to all ARVO 2021 registrants.

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