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Vladimir Kefalov, PhD, and Tiffany Schmidt, PhD, Will Be Recognized for Their Significant Achievements in Vision Research

Presentations Will Focus on Preserving Photoreceptor Function and the Health of Retinal Cells

Lighthouse Guild, the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization, will host the 2019 Alfred W. Bressler Vision Science Symposium and Pisart Seminar and present the 2019 Bressler Prize and Pisart Award at The University Club of New York, on Saturday, October 5, 2019, from 8:30am – 3pm.

Vladimir Kefalov, PhD

Vladimir Kefalov, PhD

Dr. Vladimir Kefalov is the recipient of the 2019 Bressler Prize, and Dr. Tiffany Schmidt is the 2019 Pisart Award honoree. “These two outstanding researchers, chosen by an independent panel of judges who are leading physicians and scientists in the field of vision care and research, are being recognized for their significant contributions to vision science and research,” said Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President and CEO of Lighthouse Guild.

“Improving the lives of people with vision loss is a core tenet of Lighthouse Guild,” Dr. Morse added. “By recognizing leading clinicians and researchers in vision science, we can strengthen our shared purpose and help advance tomorrow’s breakthroughs. We look forward to seeing their future work and collaborating with them to help people deal effectively with vision loss.”

The theme of the Bressler Vision Science Symposium is “Understanding and Preserving Photoreceptor Function.” Dr. Kefalov’s lecture is entitled “Mechanisms Mediating the Function of Cone Photoreceptors and Daytime Vision.” The other Bressler Symposium lecturers and topics will include:

  • John Flannery, PhD, “Developing Gene Therapies to Preserve Cone Photoreceptors.” Dr. Flannery is Professor of Optometry and Vision Science University of California Berkeley School of Optometry, Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, Associate Director, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.
  • Jeannie Chen, PhD, “Blinding Disorders Caused by Defects in Phototransduction.” Dr. Chen is Professor, Department of Cell & Neurobiology, Department of Ophthalmology, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California.
  • Thomas Ferguson, PhD, “Better Vision Through Healthy (Self)-Eating.” Dr. Ferguson is Professor, John F. Hardesty, MD, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.
Tiffany Schmidt, PhD

Tiffany Schmidt, PhD

Dr. Schmidt’s presentation for the Pisart Seminar is entitled “Illuminating Visual Circuits.” Other Pisart Seminar lecturers and topics will include:

  • Paul Gamlin, PhD, “Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells in Health and Disease.” Dr. Gamlin is Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurobiology, Psychology and Biomedical Engineering, University of Alabama Birmingham.
  • Kevin Park, PhD, “Cellular and Molecular Factors That Regulate Reconnection of Damaged Retinal Ganglion Cells.” Dr. Park is Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine.

Bressler Prize Recipient
Dr. Kefalov, one of the leading retinal scientists in the world, is a Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, and the Department of Neuroscience, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. His work has generated new insights into mechanisms of multiple human vision disorders, including the causes of photoreceptor dysfunction and degeneration, which affect color and night vision, that are spurring treatments for vision loss.

His work is currently supported by five major NIH awards, including 3 RO1 awards, an U01 award, and a R24 award. He has also received numerous awards and grants from private foundations, including a Career Development Award from Research to Prevent Blindness, and an Alcon Research Institute Young Investigator Grant.

With a wide array of experimental methods and the insights they produced, Dr. Kefalov’s lab has published 65 papers over the last 10 years. His publications have appeared in some of the highest ranked journals, including Nature, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience, Current Biology, PNAS, eLife, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Journal of Neuroscience.

Every year since 2003, the Bressler Prize has recognized a mid-career vision clinician or scientist whose leadership, research and service have led to important advancements in the understanding of vision loss, treatment of eye disease, or the rehabilitation of people with vision loss.

Pisart Award Recipient
Dr. Schmidt is being recognized for her significant contributions in sensory research and circadian biology, which is advancing the understanding of adult retinal function and retinal development. Dr. Schmidt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Associate Director of the Neurobiology Master’s Program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

In the last few years, Dr. Schmidt has made a number of important discoveries about intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) and their role in visual system function. She brings behavioral, electrophysiological, morphological, developmental, and genetic approaches to bear on a wide range of important questions concerning these cells.

The Pisart Award recognizes an early-career vision clinician or scientist whose contributions have the potential to substantially influence vision care and/or vision science and has a proven record of accomplishment.