Gaining critical knowledge about the science and art
of vision and applying it to the prevention of blindness

News


Best Student Presentation Award, Vision Science

Zikang (John) Zhu, graduate student (Neuroscience; Ari Rosenberg, PhD, mentor).

“Differential Clustering of Visual, Choice-, and Saccade-Related Activity in Macaque V3A and CIP”

Prize: Zeiss Terra ED 42 Binoculars, generously donated by Zeiss, and a $50 University Bookstore gift card generously donated by the HSLC University Bookstore

As Best Student Award Presentation recipient, John will be invited to give a seminar in the 2023–2024 McPherson ERI seminar series.

Poster presentation Award: Honorable Mention, Vision Science

Mike Landowski, postdoctoral fellow (Human Genetics; Aki Ikeda, PhD, mentor).

“A Novel Function of Transmembrane Protein 135 in Peroxisomal Homeostasis”

Prize: $25 University Bookstore gift card generously donated by the HSLC University Bookstore

Clementine Zimnicki, graduate student (Psychology; Karen Schloss, PhD, mentor).

“Squares vs. Maps: effects of configuration on the dark-is-more bias?”

Prize: $25 University Bookstore gift card generously donated by the HSLC University Bookstore


The McPherson Eye Research Institute is pleased to announce the Fall 2022 Walsh Research Travel Award recipients. These awards are generously supported by the David G. Walsh endowment.

Recipients will receive up to $1000 in registration and travel fees to attend and present vision-related research at a professional conference or symposium.

This Fall 2022 semester, the Research and Leadership Committees selected two trainees to receive Walsh Research Travel Awards.

Jacob Khoussine, graduate student (Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Mrinalini Hoon, PhD, mentor).

Jake will attend Neuroscience 2022 from November 12-16, 2022.

His presentation is titled, “Luminance-Dependent Compensation of Retinal Output Pathways in a Model of Congenital Stationary Night Blindness.

Ziyun Yegraduate student (Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences; Donna Neumann, PhD, mentor).

Ziyun will attend ARVO 2023, April 23-27, 2023.

Her presentation is titled, “Targeting Axonal Transport Mechanisms in the Treatment of Recurrent Ocular HSV-1 Infections.

Congratulations on behalf of the McPherson ERI Research and Leadership Committees!


McPherson ERI’s 14th Annual Vision Science Lecture and Fall Poster Session Draws a Crowd

Dan-Erik Nilsson, PhD, spoke on The Evolution of Eyes and Vision.

Poster session attendees 2022 1

 


The 2022 Winners: Cool Science Contest

Winners of the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Annual Cool Science Image Contest used various techniques to create artistic scientific images – some of the most diverse in the contest’s history!

Each work is currently displayed and open to the public at the 9th floor of the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR) building.

Read the full article here


Our Fall 2022 InSights is out!

The latest issue of the McPherson Eye Research Institute’s newsletter features articles on Dr. Yao Liu’s teleophthalmology initiative and a focus on animal eyes with UW-Madison’s COPLOW lab, as well as exciting news about our age-related macular degeneration support.


A Research Partnership Brings Gene Editing Promise to Eye Disease

The increased interest and success in using gene-editing techniques to treat ocular diseases has inspired collaboration between scientists of UW-Madison’s McPherson ERI, Morgridge Institute for Research, and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.

 

Read the full article here


UW Eye Research Uncovers How Stem Cell Photoreceptors Reach Their Targets

A new study reveals how photoreceptors grown from stem cells might extend biological wires, known as axons, to contact existing neurons.

 

 

 

Read full article here


Dr. Michael Chiang, Director of the National Eye Institute, delivered the 10th Annual McPherson Endowed Lecture on Monday, September 12th.

Dr David Gamm (left) and Dr Michael Chiang
Dr. Michael Chiang (right), with Dr. David Gamm

 

 

 

 

 


Eliceiri named Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellow

Innovation in scientific instrumentation is an important aspect of research at UW-Madison, in part due to efforts by MERI associate director Kevin Eliceiri. A professor of medical physics and biomedical engineering, Eliceiri was named an Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellow by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA).

Read the full article here


The McPherson ERI Fall 2022 Seminar Series Schedule is Now Available


UW Study Finds Photoreceptor Cells from Retinal Organoids Can Replicate Key Function of Vision

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health have successfully shown that a retinal cell type derived from human pluripotent stem cells is capable of the complex process of detecting light and converting that signal to electrical waves. The results of this research could unlock new therapeutic avenues for treating vision loss.

Read the full article here.


Cycle for Sight 2022 Raises Over $50,000 for Vision Research

The McPherson ERI’s annual research fundraiser was once again driven by teams that exercised outdoors – walking, running, and cycling for sight around the state and the country.  Thank you to all who participated, donated, and sponsored the event!  Check out the pictures!

Pachaas with a Purpose Team, Cycle for Sight 2022


The McPherson Eye Research Institute is proud to announce the 2022 Expanding Our Vision recipient.

Professor Yin Li, Dept. of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, will receive $10,000 from the McPherson ERI towards his research.

Towards Automated Surgical Skill Assessment for Cataract Surgical Training

Abstract: Over 25 million people in US are affected by cataracts—a clouding of the lens of the eye often related to aging. Cataracts are among the leading causes of low vision and blindness, and can be treated by surgically by replacing the natural lens of the eye with an artificial intraocular lens. Cataract surgery is a common procedure with approximately 4 million cases and a growth rate of 3-4% per year in the US. While cataract surgery is considered safe, complications such as infection, dislocated intraocular lens, and retinal detachment can occur and result in loss of vision. Surgical training is crucial to reduce this risk. A critical component in training is to assess the trainees’ surgical skill levels and provide feedback based on their surgical practice. Current assessment tools reply on the observation and feedback from expert surgeons, and thus is time consuming, highly variable, and difficult to implement. This project will develop and evaluate video-based, automated surgical skill assessment tools for cataract surgery using computer vision and machine learning. This proposed research will enable reliable quantification of surgical skills, reduce the time needed for senior surgeons in surgical training, and provide timely feedback to trainees, thereby improving surgical training and overall complication rates.


The McPherson Eye Research Institute is proud to announce the McPherson ERI-funded 2022 Hilldale Undergraduate Award recipient in vision research.

Congratulations to Lillian Li and her advisor, Ari Rosenberg (Dept. of Neuroscience) on Lillian Li’s proposal: Biologically Inspired Convolutional Neural Networks for 3D Visual Processing

Abstract: Our eyes sense two-dimensional (2D) projections of the environment, like a movie on a screen, yet we perceive the world as three-dimensional (3D). To successfully interact with objects in our dynamic environment, the visual system needs to reconstruct 3D representations from these 2D retinal projections. However, the neuronal computations underlying this process remain relatively unknown. To investigate these computations, I propose the development of a biologically inspired convolutional neural network (CNN) that can perform various 3D visual discrimination tasks. I will then compare the performance and activity of artificial neurons from the network with behavioral and neuronal data previously collected from non-human primates that performed the same tasks. By combining our current knowledge of the visual system with recent advances in CNNs, this project aims to elucidate the neuronal mechanisms that transform 2D retinal images into accurate and precise 3D representations.

The Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowship provides research training and support to undergraduates. Students have the opportunity to undertake their own research project in collaboration with UW–Madison faculty or research/instructional academic staff. The student researcher receives a $3,000 stipend (purpose unrestricted) and faculty/staff research advisor receives a $1,000 stipend to help offset research costs (e.g., supplies, student travel related to the project). The McPherson Eye Research Institute sponsors one Hilldale Fellowship for vision-based research (including bioengineering, imaging, data visualization, cognitive psychology, ophthalmology, and general biology of the eye) each year.

 


Vision Under The Sea: Beautiful Swimming Eyeballs with veterinary ophthalmologist Carmen Colitz

Learn about the differences in eyes from dolphins, seals, sea lions, and walruses compared to ours!  Also learn about the diseases that we share with them too as well those that we do not.

Friday, March 25, 2022, Noon – 1pm

Vision Under The Sea – Mar 25 2022

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Skala to Develop New Imaging Approach for Retinal Diseases

Melissa Skala, PhD, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has landed a grant from the National Eye Institute to develop a new imaging method for quantifying melanin levels in human eyes.

The approach could allow for earlier disease detection and monitoring, as well as better treatment evaluation in retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Skala’s project is another collaboration with Dr. Joseph Carroll, an ophthalmology professor and director of the Advanced Ocular Imaging Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Through the two-year, $480,135 grant, Dr. Skala will develop a technique called photothermal optical coherence tomography, which would yield quantitative 3D images of melanin concentration in living retinal tissues.

Changes in melanin levels are an early disease marker for conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Skala also holds the Retina Research Foundation Daniel M. Albert Chair through the McPherson Eye Research Institute at UW-Madison and is an investigator at the Morgridge Institute for Research on campus.

Author: Tom Ziemer
Original Article Link


THE EYE AS IMAGE EXHIBITION

Come to the Mandelbaum & Albert Family Vision Gallery (9th floor, Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research) to view works by artists Amy Carani, Gregory Frederic, Karen Nell McKean, Justin D. Miller, Pamela Ruschman, and John Walté, among others, where an image of the eye plays a prominent role in each work. Many works are also available for purchase.

The Art As Image exhibition will be hosted in the gallery from January 20 to May 31, 2022.

PARKING is available in UW-Madison lots 82 or 60, and in ramps 63 or 76.


Check out the McPherson ERI 2021 Annual Report and 2022 Calendar Online!

Cover, 2022 McPherson ERI Calendar and Report


Spring 2022 Seminar Series Flyer now available!


Kevin Eliceiri Named SPIE Fellow

Congratulations to Prof. Kevin Eliceiri, Associate Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, who is a newly named Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). Per the SPIE website, “Fellows are Members of distinction who have made significant scientific and technical contributions in the multidisciplinary fields of optics, photonics, and imaging.”

For more information, click here.


New Grants: Mezu-Ndubuisi and Gamm Labs

We’d like to note two substantial new research grants recently received by McPherson ERI member PIs.  Congratulations to Olachi Mezu-Ndubuisi, MD, OD, who was recently awarded a five-year K08 Career Development Award from NIH/NEI in the amount of $1,221,730.  The award will support her work on retinopathy of prematurity.  Dr. Mezu-Ndubuisi was also named as the new RRF Edwin and Dorothy Gamewell Professor in the McPherson ERI earlier this year.  Also recently, David Gamm, MD, PhD, and his collaborators, teamed with Dr. William Beltran (U/Penn), were awarded a two-year grant for $725,000 by Fighting Blindness Canada.  The grant will help test if a stem cell-derived photoreceptor replacement therapy can improve vision in a canine model of retinitis pigmentosa, as explained on FBC’s website.

McPherson ERI Members: Please send notice of grants received to Michael Chaim, chaim@wisc.edu!

Congratulations to our 2021 David G. Walsh Graduate Student Support Initiative Recipients!


The McPherson ERI Fall 2021 Newsletter is Now Available

Please enjoy the McPherson Eye Research Institute’s Fall 2021 InSights newsletter, which features Dr. Curtis Brandt’s work on the development of safe and effective viral delivery methods for gene therapies, as well as an introduction to our outstanding roster of trainee members through a look at four recent trainees. The first annual Walk for Sight hosted by the Walsh family is also gratefully noted.


Congratulations to our Fall 2021 Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Grant Recipients!


Join us for our 9th Annual McPherson Endowed Lecture with Kapil Bharti at 4pm on Dec. 9, 2021!


Join us for our 2nd Annual Fall Trainee Symposium at Noon on Thurs., Nov. 4, 2021!


The Cool Science Image Contest Exhibition has arrived!

Between September 24 and December 17, 2021, you can see the winners of the 2020 and 2021 Cool Science Image Contests in the Mandelbaum & Albert Family Vision Gallery on the 9th floor of the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research.


Join us for our 13th Annual Vision Science Lecture with Steven Franconeri at 4pm on Sept. 16, 2021!


The McPherson ERI Fall 2021 Seminar Series Schedule is Now Available


Cycle for Sight Passed Our $50,000 Goal!

Cycle for SIght Plus 2021 PosterThe McPherson ERI’s annual fundraiser kicked off on Friday, April 23rd and ran through Sunday, May 2nd.  Participants exercised as they chose, at a time and place of their choice. You can still join us by donating to support vision research at the University of Wisconsin!  And you can see pictures from this year’s Cycle for Sight team events here!


The McPherson ERI Summer 2021 Newsletter is Now Available

Please enjoy the Summer 2021 InSights newsletter, which features Dr. Sushmita Roy’s work on modelling cellular genetic networks in the eye, as well as a look at the Institute’s involvement in the NIH’s Somatic Cell Genome Editing (SCGE) Consortium.


Expanding Our Vision 2022 Award Recipient

Congratulations to McPherson ERI member Dr. Yuhang Zhao (Dept. of Computer Science), who will be collaborating with Dr. Bilge Mutlu  (Dept. of Computer Science) and Dr. Sanbrita Mondal (Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences), here at UW-Madison. Their project, Designing Augmented Reality Systems to Facilitate Safe Cooking for People with Low Vision, will utilize augmented reality (AR) glasses to enhance vision by intelligently recognizing the environment and generating tailored visual augmentations, thereby enabling people with low vision to cook independently and safely.


Vision in the Ocean

Learn what the dynamic camouflage of cuttlefish can tell us about their vision! This interesting talk was given to the McPherson Eye Research Institute by Dr. Sara Zylinski, a lecturer in Marine Biology at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, UK, in March of 2021.


The Fundus Photograph Reading Center renamed The Wisconsin Reading Center

The Fundus Photograph Reading Center, which was initially established by Dr. Matthew Davis in 1970 to independently analyze–or “read”–photographs from participants in the first clinical trials of diabetic retinopathy, has a new name–the Wisconsin Reading Center! The Wisconsin Reading Center analyzes retinal images in an effort to provide an unbiased and comprehensive source of data for clinical trials of diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, macular degeneration, retinal vein occlusion, uveitis, inherited retinal diseases, and drug safety trials, providing top quality retinal imaging data to researchers worldwide.


Learn about Vision and the Eye: In the Dark and In the Light

The McPherson ERI Outreach Committee is pleased to provide this lesson on vision and the eye to the public. The eyes of nocturnal and diurnal vertebrates are compared for differences in their structures. Designed for a middle school audience, it is interesting for all! Both diagrams and photographic images of eyes, from animals active at night and during the day, show variations in the size of the cornea, shape and position of the lens, and quantities of photoreceptors. Viewers are invited to use these differences to identify the environmental adaptations of eyes from various animals. A worksheet is also provided for the lesson. Enjoy!


“Ice Cube Tray” Scaffold for Retinal Patch Described in Science Advances Paper

Electron microscope image of
Electron microscope image of new “scaffolding,” courtesy of the Ma Lab

A collaboration among the labs of David Gamm, Sarah Gong, and Jack Ma will advance photoreceptor replacement therapy through the development of a second generation “ice cube tray” retinal patch intended for implantation in the retina.  The three scientists’ work, supported by grants from a wide range of sources, is described in a recently published paper in Science Advances.


Systemic Racism & Unconscious Bias in Medical Workplaces

Olachi Mezu-Ndubuisi, MD, OD
Olachi Mezu-Ndubuisi, MD, OD

Please read an important new “call to servant leadership” by  Olachi Mezu-Ndubuisi, MD, OD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and a McPherson ERI member-researcher.  Dr. Mezu-Ndubuisi’s article was recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


2021 Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Grant Winners Announced

Four McPherson ERI trainee researchers received this year’s Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Grants, funded through Cycle for Sight. The McPherson ERI is grateful to the Valentyn family and all other Cycle for Sight participants for enabling this boost to vision researchers at the start of their careers.


Recipients of the David G. Walsh Graduate Student Support Initiative Awards Announced

The McPherson ERI is pleased to announce the recipients of the first annual David G. Walsh Graduate Student Support Initiative awards. Two one-year grants of $12,000, financed by the David G. Walsh Research Fellowship Endowment Fund, were provided to two McPherson ERI members to support a graduate student. The recipients included Ari Rosenberg, PhD (Dept. of Neuroscience), in support of PhD candidate Lowell W. Thomson (Neuroscience Training Program) and his work on hierarchical neural circuitry supporting 3D object motion processing, and Nader Sheibani, PhD (Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences), in support of PhD candidate Yong-Seok Song, MS (Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Program) and his work on CYP1b1 expression, iron homeostasis, and ocular oxidative stress. Congratulations to our recipients!


The McPherson ERI’s 2020 Annual Report (and 2021 Calendar) is now available online!


Dr. Michael Altaweel Awarded the Monroe E. Trout Chair in Vision Research

Dr. Michael Altaweel

The Monroe E. Trout Chair is the third endowed chair established by the Trouts in the McPherson Eye Research Institute, following on the Sandra Lemke Trout Chair (held by David Gamm, MD, PhD), and the Timothy William Trout Chair (held by Akihiro Ikeda, DVM, PhD).  All three endowed chairholders focus on research intended to cure or develop effective new therapies for age-related macular degeneration.


Developing a Retinal Therapy for Combat-Related Injuries

The Gamm, Gong, and Ma Labs are working with collaborators to develop a new stem cell retinal patch therapy for injured soldiers and others.


McPherson ERI Expanding Our Vision grant recipients

The new program was started in 2020 and is intended to support researchers in a broad array of vision research areas.


Stream our Summer Vision Research Update!

Dr. David Gamm presents advances in vision research from McPherson ERI scientists, and answers questions on macular degeneration, RP, glaucoma and other vision topics.


A New Approach to a Rare, Incurable Form of Blindness

A collaboration among four McPherson ERI member labs has resulted in a proof-of-concept method to correct an inherited form of macular degeneration that causes blindness, and that is currently untreatable.  The research focused on Best disease and demonstrated that a two-tiered gene therapy strategy may be able to treat all Best disease mutations in a highly effective manner.  An in-depth account of their work is in the McPherson ERI Summer 2020 InSights.


In Memoriam: Oscar C. Boldt, 1924-2020

The McPherson ERI deeply regrets the passing of Oscar C. Boldt, an extraordinary individual who, along with his wife Pat, was a founding Advisory Board member and friend to the Institute for many years.  The McPherson ERI’s home is in WIMR II, an outstanding state-of-the-art research complex built by Boldt Construction on West Campus.  Our condolences go out to Pat and to O.C.’s family and friends.


For an update on McPherson ERI glaucoma research, please check out our Spring 2020 Newsletter.


Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Grants 2020 Announced

The McPherson Eye Research Institute’s Research and Leadership Committees are pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Grants.  Anjani Sreepada Chakrala, Ralph W. Nelson, and Abhilash Sawant will each receive a one-year grant award of $4000 funded by the Institute’s Cycle for Sight event, which raises money to support vision research in McPherson ERI member labs and programs.


Cycle for Sight 2020 Sets an Event Record!

Cycle for Sight 2020 has raised over $65,000 for vision research at UW-Madison, and also set a participant record (close to 300!)  Check out these pictures from Cycle for Sight 2020!

SMPH team at Cycle for Sight 2020
School of Medicine and Public Health riders at Cycle for Sight 2020

Past News Article Archive


Events

Vision Science Lecture with Dr. Dan-Eric Nilsson
Oct. 20, 2022

Fall 2022 Seminar Series

Cycle for Sight 2023: Date TBD donate online


Vision Gallery
Changes periodically

Newsletters

Spring 2021

McPherson ERI Newsletter Spring 2021

Fall 2020

McPherson ERI Newsletter Fall 2020

Summer 2020

McPherson ERI Newsletter Summer 2020

Summer 2020 Newsletter cover

Spring 2020

McPherson ERI Newsletter Spring 2020

Fall 2019

McPherson ERI Newsletter Fall 2019