Mission: The McPherson Eye Research Institute is a multidisciplinary community of scholars working to gain critical knowledge about the science and art of vision and apply it to the prevention of blindness.

Vision: The McPherson Eye Research Institute will be a world leader in collaborative research, innovation, and therapeutic discovery.

Tagline: Working together to understand, protect, and restore vision.

McPherson ERI Annual Reports:     2023   2022    2021     2020   2019     2018      2017     2016     2015     2014     2013

A Welcome from David Gamm, Director, McPherson ERI

Thank you for visiting the McPherson Eye Research Institute’s website. Through the cutting-edge, collaborative efforts of our members, we are advancing our mission to gain critical knowledge about the science and art of vision, and apply it to the prevention and treatment of blinding diseases. I invite you to learn more about our work through this website, which includes links to the work of our 200+ members.

Vision loss often has devastating consequences for affected individuals and their families. Millions of Americans (including approximately 100,000 Wisconsin residents) suffer from age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and childhood-onset disorders, among many other conditions.

Alice McPhersonThe McPherson Eye Research Institute (MERI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was founded by Drs. Daniel M. Albert and Alice McPherson in 2005 to bring under one umbrella the extraordinary diversity and strength of vision research at UW-Madison. Named in honor of pioneering retinal surgeon and University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health graduate Dr. Alice McPherson, the McPherson ERI has quickly become one of the world’s foremost multi-disciplinary vision research centers, with members in 48 UW-Madison departments and affiliated non-UW institutions. Through basic and clinical science research of the eye and visual system, our researchers have made significant advances in vision science and related fields, including:

  • Preservation and Restoration of Vision, focusing on a wide range of diseases that cause vision loss, including age related macular degeneration (AMD) – the leading cause of vision loss in older adults – diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and other childhood-onset disorders, and glaucoma and other optic neuropathies. McPherson ERI members explore and develop prospective therapies – from drug-based to gene therapy, stem cells to nutrition – to advance treatments and ultimately cure these diseases.
  • Basic Vision Research, investigating all aspects of the healthy and impaired eye, from genetic and molecular bases to interconnections with the brain and the mind – the neuroscience and psychology of vision.
  • Advanced Technologies, working in biomedical engineering, physics, computer science, and other fields to develop tools for imaging the eye, as well as promising adaptive devices for the blind and visually-impaired.
  • Education and Outreach, bringing progress in vision science to the university and the broader public.

Your interest can help our work. Please join us for seminars, lectures, and other events, including our annual Cycle for Sight indoor biking fundraiser. And, don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you have questions or would like to know how you can help support vision research at UW-Madison. Thank you for visiting us.

David Gamm, MD, PhD
RRF Emmett A. Humble Distinguished Director
Sandra Lemke Trout Chair in Eye Research
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Honoring Dr. Alice McPherson

With great sadness, the McPherson ERI notes the passing on January 16th, 2023, of our namesake and co-founder, Dr. Alice R. McPherson. Dr. McPherson’s many remarkable achievements are profiled on our website and are honored in the Spring 2023 issue of our InSights newsletter. Her effects on the McPherson Eye Research Institute and UW-Madison, on many other institutions, and on so many patients and researchers around the world, are incalculable.

Dr Alice McPherson

Dr. Alice McPherson with the Gonin Medal Awarded to her in 2014

March 2014 Calendar imageDavid Gamm, Professor in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, uses stem cells to generate three-dimensional structures “in the dish” that are markedly similar to those formed in the developing eye.

In this image, stem cells generated from reprogrammed human skin cells create an optic vesicle-like structure in which retinal cells at varying stages of maturation (depicted by red, green, and blue labeling) assemble into distinct layers highly reminiscent of the human retina in vivo. These structures can be used for studying retinal development, modeling eye diseases, testing therapeutics, and formulating retinal cell-based therapies.