About the Meeting

The eye research sets a paradigm for integration of the basic and clinical sciences. The interdigitating advancements of several research fields in genetics, developmental and cell biology, neuroscience and stem cell therapeutics are forcing a new era closer than ever in treatment of complicated human eye diseases. The 2nd International Vision Symposia in this year of 2019 is extended from the first of its kind held in 2017, aiming to inform cutting-edge eye researches and novel therapies. It contains 4 topics: Vision neuroscience, Stem cells and therapies, Retinal cell biology, and Development and genetics and diseases. We will have more than 20 renowned professors from 6 different countries in respective fields giving speeches on their outstanding research findings. We also invited several speakers beyond the eye field to speak on stem cell biology, for commonalities in cell-based therapies are shared among different research contexts. We hope this meeting will provide an international platform of high standard for academic exchanges for both basic and clinical scientists. Finally, we wish to welcome and host you at Guangzhou, a beautiful southern city in China with rich cultures.



Welcome Message from the Chair


Dear friends and colleagues:

It is our great pleasure and honor to welcome you all to the 2nd International Vision Symposium on ocular development, neurodegeneration and repair on August 3-4, 2019, hosted by Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center at Guangzhou, China,

This event features four sessions that will discuss progresses in development, genetics and diseases, stem cells and therapies, vision neuroscience and retinal cell biology. We are honored to have with us nearly 20 outstanding visual scientists and ophthalmologists to share their discoveries.

We believe that this conference will not only deepen our understanding of vision development and disease mechanisms but most importantly tie new and old friendships to promote eye researches in our institution and worldwide.

Finally, we look forward to welcoming you in Guangzhou and wish you all enjoy the uniqueness and richness of the southern Chinese cultures.

With best regards,

Yizhi Liu, Professor, Chair



On behalf of:

The organization Committee:

Chunqiao Liu, Senior Investigator, SKLO

Shujuan Xu, Shanzhen Peng, Lan Zhang, SKLO

Jingjing Cao & Xiaozhen Huang, Scientific Department

Jiawei Wang, Administrative Center for foreign affairs

The Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center

The Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center (ZOC) is affiliated to Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the southern gateway to China. Since its inception in 1983, ZOC has been the largest eye care center in China. ZOC consists of three components: the Affiliated Ophthalmic Hospital, the Ophthalmic Research Institute, and the Department of Blindness Prevention. ZOC has more than 300 ophthalmologists and offers a full spectrum of tertiary subspecialty care for common and complicated eye diseases. In 2018, ZOC has managed an annual workload of 1,141,000 outpatient visits and more than 75,000 surgeries. ZOC was the first hospital to confer master's and doctoral degree of Ophthalmology in China. It is the national continuing medical education base pilot unit, and the national standardized resident training base. In 2008, it became the national specialist physicians admittance base pilot unit. Currently, there are 77 doctoral tutors and 53 master tutors in Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center.

It has been granted the status of State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology (SKLO) by the Ministry of Science and Technology and is the only one of its kind in China. The SKLO forms a major part of ZOC. In recent years, the SKLO has launched an ambitious program for the worldwide recruitment of high-level biomedical researchers, with the commitment of pushing the boundaries of innovation and knowledge as far as it can. Latest research areas include; stem cell and developmental biology, neurobiology and translational science, vascular biology and immunology, gene therapy and biological big data, ophthalmic diseases and translational science.

For more information: www.gzzoc.com/


The State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology

The State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology (SKLO) serves as one of the important arms of Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sun University (ZOC), which is rated the Best Reputation Hospital and Best Science and Technology Evaluation Metrics (STEM)?by specialty in China for recent years.

SKLO’s root traced to the first western eye hospital in China established in 1835 in Guangzhou. Due to the seniors’ ambitious effort on eye care and research over past decades, a laboratory of ophthalmic?supported by the Chinese Health Ministry was established in 1991, which evolved into the current SKLO supported by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology in 2006. It is the only one state key laboratory in ophthalmological industry of China.

SKLO strives to advance our knowledge on the visual system in health and diseases, preserve and restore vision, and improve the quality of life ultimately.

With the management of Professors Yizhi Liu and Lin Chen, SKLO creates a multidisciplinary board with more than 100 researchers, including 2 Chief?Scientists of National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program), 6 Principal Investigators of National Key R&D Program of China, 3 Principal Investigators of National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, 2 Principal Investigators of Science Foundation for The Excellent Youth Scholars, 1 Principal Investigator of Ten thousand talent plan - National high level talents special support plan, 2 Principal Investigators of Thousand Talents Program, and 6 Principal Investigators of Thousand Young Talents Program. The scientists in SKLO actively conduct both basic and translational research in the fields of stem cell and developmental biology, neurobiology, vascular biology, immunology, gene therapy, and blindness prevention.

Over past years, the study on stem cell-mediated lens repair (Nature, 2016) from Professor Yizhi Liu’s team was recognized as one of the top 8 notable advances in the field of life sciences by Nature Medicine, 2016. Pointed a new strategy for treating corneal surface diseases by the WNT7A–PAX6 axis in corneal epithelial cell fate determination. (Nature, 2014)

Discovered that outdoor activities help nearsightedness prevention in children (JAMA, 2015), which is impressed President Jinping Xi and Chinese government to formulate policy on myopia prevention. Advised that widespread prophylactic laser peripheral iridotomy for primary angle-closure suspects not recommended (Lancet, 2019). Established the artificial-intelligence (AI) system providing diagnostic and treatment suggestions for?cataract (Nat Biomed Eng, 2017), glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal diseases. (JAMA 2017).

SKLO regards the education as one of the highest priorities to?endeavors to achieve international excellence around the world. In 2015, The Asia-pacific Academic of Ophthalmology (APAO) launched permanent headquarter in SKLO. APAO is the largest regional academic organization in the world, with the aim of propelling ophthalmological development, especially the internationalization of ophthalmology education in member countries. It indicated a closer relationship between Chinese ophthalmologists and world scientific community of ophthalmology


General Information

Conference Badges

Please wear your badge at all times so that you can be identified as a delegate.

Internet Access

Complimentary wireless internet access is available in the hotel guest rooms. Wireless internet access is available in the conference room (Wi-Fi: sysuzoc, Key: YkzX8733#); however, please be courteous during the presentations and remember that the sound of clicking keyboards does carry in a large room.


Scientific sessions take place in the academic hall, 2nd floor of the ZOC Research Building.

Coffee Breaks

Coffee breaks may be taken in the entrance lobby of the academic hall.

Scientific Session Protocol

Conference photography, audio or video recording of the scientific sessions is not permitted. Please turn off your mobile devices during session presentations.

Local Transportation information

Airport: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is 29.3km from the congress venue.

Taxi: Guangzhou taxi companies provide the service between Baiyun International Airport and the Vaperse Hotel or ZOC. Taxi are the most convenient form of transportation (~200 CNY).

Metro: Alternatively, you can take the Guangzhou metro service. The Vaperse Hotel or ZOC can be reached by exiting at Zhujiang New Town station on line 3. For more travel information in Guangzhou, including bus, metro, taxi, and driving information, please visit the http://www.gbiac.net/en/byh.


Chief organizer:

Chunqiao Liu, Senior Investigator, SKLO

Prof. Liu: Work: 020-66677328

Mobile: 13710518225;

Email: liuchunq3@sysu.edu.cn



Shujuan Xu, Ms Xu: Work: 020-66678732

Mobile: 18825115746; Email: xushujuan@gzzoc.com

Jingjing Cao & Xiaozhen Huang, Scientific Department

Jiawei Wang, Administrative Center for foreign affairs



Program agenda

Friday, August 2nd____Registration

13:30 – 20:30

Register at first floor lobby of Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center Research Building: Jinsui Road, No. 7. Tianhe District, Guangzhou

Saturday, August 3rd____ Keynote and full-day sessions

08:15 – 08:30

Welcome message and opening remarks:

Yizhi Liu, Professor, Chair of the symposium, Director of Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center

08:30 – 08:40

Group photo

08:40 – 09:40

Keynote lecture: From development to stem cell-based modeling and therapies of retinal disease

Anand Swaroop, Senior Investigator, National Eye Institute, USA

Session 1: Vision neuroscience ( Chaired by Tian Xue & Anand Swaroop)

09:40 – 10:20

Title: Building and rebuilding the retina: one cell at a time

Seth Blackshaw, Professor, Johns Hopkins University, USA

10:20 – 10:30

Coffee break

10:30 – 11:10

Title: Genetic Profiling of S- and M-Cone Photoreceptors

Wei Li, Senior investigator, National Eye Institute, USA

11:10 – 11:50

Title: Axon guidance molecules: new targets for vision repair

Alain Chedotal, Professor, Inserm, France

11:50 – 12:30

Title: Vision Enhancement and Restoration

Tian Xue, University of Science and Technology of China

12:30 – 12:40

Conclusive remarks

12:40 – 14:00

Lunch break

Session 2: Stem cells and therapies (Chaired by Baoyang Hu & Peng Andy Xiang)

14:00 – 14:40

Title: TBD

Guotong Xu, Tongji University, China

14:40 – 15:20

Title: Engineering of new CRISPR/Cas12 orthologs for genome editing and DNA detection

Wei Li, Senior Investigator, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

15:20 – 16:00

Title: From bench to bedside --- the clinical study of mesenchymal stem/ stromal cell therapy

Andy Peng Xiang, Sun Yat-sen University

16:00 – 16:10

Coffee break

16:10 – 16:50

Title: Stem Cell Therapies for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Baoyang Hu, Senior Investigator, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

16:50 – 17:30

Title: Transcriptional Regulation of Retinal Development and Neural Reprogramming

Mengqing Xiang, Professor, SKLO, Sun Yat-sen University

17:30 – 18:10

Title: Molecular regulation of porcine early stage embryonic development and derivation of pluripotent stem cell lines

Zhonghua Liu, Professor, Northeast Agricultural University

18:10 – 18:20

Conclusive remarks

Sunday, August 4th____ Full-day sessions

Session 3: Retinal cell biology (Chaired by Chunqiao Liu & Ching-Hwa Sung)

08:30 – 09:10

Title: Growth hormone-releasing hormone signaling in acute ocular inflammation

CHAN Sun-On Hector, Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

09:10 – 09:50

Title: Roles of microglia and immunological circumstance in onset and progression of retinal photoreceptor degeneration

Sumiko Watanabe, Professor, The University of Tokyo

09:50 – 10:30

Title: A saga of planar cell polarity (PCP) component, Prickle 1, in ocular morphorgenesis

Chunqiao Liu, Senior Investigator, SKLO, Sun Yat-sen University

10:30 – 10:40

Coffee break

10:40 – 11:20

Title: Roles of Protein Phosphatase-1 in Lens Development and Pathogenesis David Li, Senior Investigator, SKLO, Sun Yat-Sen University

11:20 – 12:00

Title: The genesis and renewal of rod and cone outer segments

Ching-Hwa Sung, Professor, Cornell University, USA

12:00 – 12:10

Conclusive remarks

12:10 – 14:00

Lunch break

Session 4: Development Genetics and Diseases (Chaired by Ordan Lehmann & Calvin Pang)

14:00 – 14:40

Title: Molecular Genomics of Myopia

Calvin C.P. Pang, Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

14:40 – 15:20

Title: Insights from pediatric glaucoma: extending the ciliopathy spectrum

Ordan Lehmann, Professor, University of Alberta, Canada

15:20 – 15:30

Coffee break

15:30 – 16:10

Title: Decipher CRX regulatory potential at specific target sites in photoreceptor development and disease

Shiming Chen, Professor, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

16:10 – 16:50

Title: Retinal organoids: Modeling of human retinal development in a dish

Xiufeng Zhong, Senior Investigator, SKLO, Sun Yat-sen University

16:50 – 17:30

Title: Diseased Retinas in a dish

Zibing Jin, Professor, Wenzhou Medical University, China

17:30 – 17:40

Conclusive Remarks

18:00 – 20:00

Dinner reception

Monday, August 5th____ Departure




Friday, August2nd


13:30~20:30pm: First floor lobby, ZOC Research Building, Jinsui Road, No. 7. Tianhe District, Guangzhou, 510623


Saturday, August 3rd

Keynote session

(Introduced by Chunqiao Liu)

8:15~8:30am: Welcome message and opening remarks

Yizhi Liu, Chair of the symposium, Director of ZOC, Sun Yat-sen University


8:30~8:40am: Group photo


8:40~9:40am: From development to stem cell-based modeling and therapies of retinal disease

Anand Swaroop, National Eye Institute, USA

Abstract: Retinal and macular degeneration involving photoreceptor dysfunction/death constitute a major cause of incurable blindness worldwide. Extensive phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity associated with retinal diseases prompted us to investigate gene-independent treatment strategies that are based on gene regulatory networks underlying photoreceptor development and disease pathogenesis. We are also taking advantage of the landmark studies on the generation of three-dimensional neural retina organoids from pluripotent stem cells for modeling human disease in vitro and evaluate different therapeutic paradigms. I will first discuss our published studies on transcriptional regulators and gene networks that determine mammalian photoreceptor development and how this knowledge is being used for designing treatments. Then, I will present more recent research on retinal organoids for developing therapies of retinal neurodegeneration.




Session 1: Vision Neuroscience

(Chaired by Tian Xue & Anand Swaroop)

9:40~10:20am: Building and rebuilding the retina: one cell at a time

Seth Blackshow, Johns Hopkins University, USA

Abstract: The retina is an accessible system for identifying the molecular mechanisms that control CNS cell fate specification, and is a prime target for regenerative therapies aimed at restoring photoreceptors lost to blinding diseases. I will discuss our recent large-scale single-cell RNA-Seq analysis of multiple vertebrate species that is aimed at identifying gene regulatory networks that drive the acquisition of neuronal and glial identity in the developing retina. I will discuss our identification of transcription factors that control both temporal identity and proliferative quiescence, new tools we and our collaborators have developed to identify both core evolutionarily-conserved and species-specific gene regulatory networks controlling retinal development, and mechanisms controlling injury-induced neurogenic competence in retinal glia.


10:20~10:30am: Coffee break


10:30-11:10am: Genetic Profiling of S- and M-Cone Photoreceptors

Wei Li, National Eye Institute, USA

Abstract: Mammalians have two major types of photoreceptors in the retina: rods, specialized for vision in dim-light, and cones for vision in well-lit conditions and the perception of color. Most mammals have two cone types, namely S- and M-cones. They diverge in their sensitivity to different wavelengths of light, based on their expression of different light-sensitive proteins: S-opsin for blue light and M-opsin for green light. The purpose of this project is to identify genetic differences in cones in addition to their opsins and, more specifically, to find molecules that are potentially involved in cone synapse formation. To identify molecular signatures of different cone types, we used single cell RNA-seq to obtain complete genetic profiles of S- and M-cones. For this study, we used the 13-lined ground squirrel that, in contrast to mouse, is diurnal and has a cone-dominated retina. The two cone types are morphologically indistinguishable, so we developed a protocol to dissociate and label live cells with an antibody targeting the extracellular domain of S-cones We then manually collected single cells for single cell sequencing. Our data reveals differentially expressed genes that define cone identity beyond their expression of S- or M-opsins. We show in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical evidence for some of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs). We identified two S-cone specific cell-adhesion molecules that are known to play roles in synapse assembly in the brain. Our results can help to understand circuit formation in the retina and synapse assembly in the nervous system. For clinical applications, this could be useful for future works that aim to replace or rewire photoreceptors in retinal degenerative diseases.


11:10am~11:50am: Axon guidance molecules: new targets for vision repair

Alain Chedotal, Inserm, France

Abstract: The development of neuronal connections is controlled by multiple families of secreted and membrane-bound proteins, such as semaphorins, netrins and slits which either attract or repel growing axons. Many of these axon guidance molecules also control cell interactions and cell migration outside the brain such as in the developing eye. They are also expressed in adult tissue and are involved in pathological processes.

Our laboratory studies the function of axon guidance molecules in the development of the visual system and its regeneration, using two model systems: the retina and the cornea. 50% of colorectal cancers have resulted from the loss of function of the tumor suppressor gene, Deleted in Colorectal Cancer (DCC). The visual system develops over both embryonic and postnatal stages. Our results show that DCC and netrin1 are expressed in the developing and postnatal murine ?retina. To study their function we ?have generated conditional knockout (cKO) mice for DCC (DCCfl/fl) and netrin1 under the promoter Dickopf-3 (Dkk3) expressed in all retinal progenitor cells. These mutants are viable and adult mice display ON hypoplasia, replicating the DCC null phenotype. In?DCC?cKO mice,?Retinal Ganglion Cell (RGCs) axons are misguided and had degenerated by more than 80% at 1 month. Furthermore, adult DCC cKO mice exhibit massive dysplasias with rosette-like structures and photoreceptor degeneration in some parts of the retina. To improve the phenotypic analysis of visual system in knockout animals we have generated a novel tissue clearing protocol for whole-tissue clearing of pigmented eyes, “EyeDISCO”. This protocol is amenable to whole-mount immunostaining and Light Sheet Microscopy (LSM) for 3D rendering.

We also study the role of axon guidance molecules in optic nerve regeneration and in cornea reinnervation after injury to identify new therapeutic targets for vision repair. I will present our most recent results at the meeting.


11:50~12:30pm: Vision Enhancement and Restoration

Tian Xue, University of Science and Technology of China


12:30~12:40pm: Conclusive remarks

12:40~2:00pm: Lunch break



Session 2: Stem cells and Therapies

(Chaired by Baoyang Hu and Andy Peng Xiang)

2:00~2:40pm: tbd

Guotong Xu: Tongji University, China


2:40~3:20pm: Engineering of new CRISPR/Cas12 orthologs for genome editing and DNA detection

Wei Li, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Abstract: The type V CRISPR/Cas systems have unique features distinguished from the type II CRISPR/Cas9 system that has been adapted and widely used for genome editing. Currently only three type V-A CRISPR/Cas12a orthologs have been employed for mammalian genome editing, and the editing efficiency as well as targeting coverage still requires improvements. Here we report our progresses in engineering of new type V CRISPR/Cas systems for genome editing and DNA detection, which include i) repurposing CRISPR/Cas12b as the third CRISPR-based genome editing tool and six novel CRISPR/Cas12a orthologs for genome editing in human and mouse cells; ii) optimizing guide RNA scaffold to increase the genome editing efficiency of these novel systems; iii) developing a CRISPR/Cas12b-based method for rapid and efficient DNA detection.


3:20~4:00pm: From bench to bedside - the clinical study of mesenchymal stem/stromal cell therapy

Andy Peng Xiang, Sun Yat-sen University


4:00~4:10pm: Coffee break


4:10~4:50pm: Stem Cell Therapies for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Baoyang Hu, Institute of Zoology, CAS, China


4:50~5:30pm: Transcriptional Regulation of Retinal Development and Neural Reprogramming

Mengqing Xiang, SKLO, Sun Yat-sen University

Abstract: Our group focuses on exploring the molecular mechanism and gene regulatory network of retinal cell specification, differentiation and survival, establishing animal models for retinal degeneration, as well as on inducing retinal/neural cells from stem cells and fibroblasts for retinal/neural repair and regeneration. We first identified retinogenic transcription factors (e.g. Brn3b/Pou4f2 and Ath5) involved in retinal ganglion cell determination and differentiation and subsequently show that Brn3b ensures the fidelity of ganglion cell precursors by suppressing non-ganglion differentiation programs. We also the first to discover the Foxn4-Ptf1a pathway in directing retinal progenitors towards amacrine and horizontal cells and then demonstrate that Foxn4 inhibits photoreceptor fates of retinal progenitors by activating Dll4-Notch signaling. In addition, we have identified several Ptf1a downstream target genes (e.g. Tfap2a/2b, Zeb2, Ldb1) and characterized their crucial? functions in retinal cell development, and established a safer, easier and much more efficient method to simultaneously induce iPSCs and iNSCs (induced neural stem cells) from urine cells. More recently, we for the first time have reprogrammed rodent and human somatic cells into iNSCs using a single non-neural progenitor transcription factor (i.e. Ptf1a), which overturns certain conventional concepts and is of great significance for the research and treatment of neurological diseases.


5:30~6:10pm: Molecular regulation of porcine early stage embryonic development and derivation of pluripotent stem cell lines

Zhonghua Liu, Northeast Agricultural University, China

Abstract: Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are regarded to harbor the greatest developmental potency. However, so far, the na?ve PSCs has been only derived in mouse, rat and human. Pig, as an important livestock, can be used as human disease model and potential organ donor for xenotransplantation in regenerative medicine. Therefore, the na?ve porcine PSCs is highly desirable. The na?ve pluripotency is derived from early embryos. To understand the progression of pluripotency in pig, we performed comprehensive single-cell RNA-seq for porcine early embryos, and showed the molecular signatures of the first lineage specification, pluripotency and the dynamics of X-chromosome dosage compensation specific to pig. And, comparison of mouse and porcine pluripotent matched stages showed that the epiblast in E7-8 late blastocyst of pig was developmental equivalence to mouse pre-epiblast, indicating the na?ve PSCs of pig may be similar to the E7-8 epiblast. In addition, we derived several na?ve-like porcine pluripotent cell lines under chemically-defined conditions, such as LCDM and XGV1, and demonstrated the pluripotent features of the cell lines. Our study describes molecular landmarks of embryogenesis in pig that will provide a better strategy for derivation of porcine PSCs and improve the research in regenerative medicine.

Key words: single-cell RNA-seq; cell signalling pathways; pluripotent regulation; pluripotent stem cells; early embryos; pig


6:10~6:20pm Conclusive Remarks

6:30pm~ Evening: ZOC receptions

Dinner receptions (6:30-9:00pm)



Sunday, August 4th

Session 3: Retinal Cell Biology

(Chaired by Chunqiao Liu and Ching-Hwa Sung)

8:30~9:10am: Growth hormone-releasing hormone signaling in acute ocular inflammation

CHAN Sun-On Hector, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Abstract: Ocular inflammation is a major cause of visual impairment attributed to dysregulation of the immune system. Previously we have shown that the receptor for growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH-R) affects multiple inflammatory processes. To clarify the pathological roles of GHRH-R in acute ocular inflammation, we investigated the inflammatory cascades mediated by this receptor. In human ciliary epithelial cells, NF-κB subunit p65 was phosphorylated in response to stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), resulting in transcriptional activation of GHRH-R. Bioinformatics analysis and co-immunoprecipitation showed that GHRH-R had a direct interaction with JAK2. JAK2 was elevated in ciliary body and iris after treatment with LPS in a rat model of endotoxin- induced uveitis. This elevation augmented the phosphorylation of STAT3 and production of pro- inflammatory factors, including IL-6, IL-17A, COX2 and iNOS. In explants of iris and ciliary body, the GHRH-R antagonist, MIA-602, suppressed phosphorylation of STAT3 and attenuated expression of downstream pro-inflammatory factors after LPS treatment. A similar suppression of STAT3 phosphorylation was observed in human ciliary epithelial cells. In vivo studies showed that blocking of GHRH-R/JAK2/STAT3 axis with JAK2 inhibitor, Ruxolitinib, alleviated LPS- induced acute ocular inflammation, as indicated by the reduction in inflammatory cells and protein leakage in the aqueous humor, and repressed STAT3 target genes, IL-6, IL-17A, COX2 and iNOS in explants of rat ciliary body and iris and in human ciliary epithelial cells. Our findings indicate a functional role of GHRH-R/JAK2/STAT3 signaling axis in acute anterior uveitis, and suggest a novel therapeutic strategy based on treatment with antagonists targeting this signaling pathway.


9:10~9:50am: Roles of microglia and immunological circumstance in onset and progression of retinal photoreceptor degeneration

Sumiko Watanabe, The University of Tokyo, Japan

Abstract: Microglia is macrophage-like cells, but constitutively resides in central nervous system. Activation of microglia is observed in various neural degenerative disorders in brain, and recently its roles has been paid attention also in retinal degenerative diseases. We are working to clarify molecular events involving microglia activation during progression of retinal degeneration. To examine transition of photoreceptor degeneration, we generated a genetic mouse model in which rod was injured by rod-photoreceptor specific expression of Diphtheria toxin fragment A (DTA), which was induced by administration of tamoxifen. Thereby we could analyze early stage of rod degeneration using this mice. We found that Mueller glia is activated immediately after DTA expression followed by microglia activation. We then identified gene expression patterns of microglia and macrophage by performing bone marrow transplantation to the DTA-mouse by using the EGFP-expressing mouse as a donor. To examine effects of activated microglia in retinal cells, we activated microglia by itself by specific in vivo expression of RasV12 in microglia. The RasV12-microglia proliferated, migrated, and expressed cytokine genes. In the mouse, Mueller glia was expressed GFAP, and number of photoreceptors but not other lineage of retinal cells decreased. By using these newly established mouse models, we are working to clarify transition of cellular communication which constitute inflammatory-milieu before and after onset of rod degeneration with a final goal to identify therapeutic targets of retinal degeneration.


9:50~10:30am: A saga of planar cell polarity (PCP) component, Prickle 1, in ocular morphorgenesis

Chunqiao Liu, SKLO, Sun Yat-Sen University

Abstract: Planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling plays important role in tissue morphogenesis. Prickle 1 is considered as a key component of PCP core complex in drosophila. Recent findings demonstrated diverse mechanisms of Prickle 1 in vectorial cell activities that are crucial for cell migration and tissue morphogenesis. Here using mouse as a model system, we revealed a novel mechanism for Prickle 1 to regulate polarized cell ECM deposition to control cell anchoring to the matrices, which may in turn signal initial cell organization and AB polarity and further facilitate duct extension. Additionally, the current study implicated cell signaling in complex ocular tissue development and diseases.


10:30~10:40am: Coffee break


10:40~11:20am: Roles of Protein Phosphatase-1 in Lens Development and Pathogenesis

David Li, SKLO, Sun Yat-Sen University

Abstract: Protein serine/threonine phosphatase-1 (PP-1) is a major phosphatase in the ocular lens.? The holoenzyme is composed of the catalytic subunit (α, β and γ) and its cognate regulatory subunits.? PP-1 is highly expressed during eye development.? By dephosphorylating various substrates such as the tumor suppressors, p53 and Rb, the Akt kinases and the major transcription factors such as Pax-6, PP-1 plays an essential role during eye development.? In this presentation, I will summarize our previous studies on the PP-1 regulation of lens development and pathogenesis.


11:20~12:00am: The genesis and renewal of rod and cone outer segments

Ching-Hwa Sung, Cornell University, USA

Abstract: Emerging evidence suggests that the outer segment dysmorphogenesis and the mislocalized outer segment proteins contribute to the etiology of various retinal dystrophies. To date, the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate the genesis and renewal of the mammalian photoreceptor segments remain incompletely understood. Our lab tackled these fundamental questions by combining several innovative techniques, including high-resolution immuno-electron microscopy (EM), 3D scanning EM, as well as the inducible gene expression (and gene suppression) in rodent rods and cones. These investigations uncover the heterogeneity of the outer segment discs, the cellular machinery, and the environmental cues that modulate the outer segment formation. I will describe the novel sorting stations that store and dispatch different outer segment molecules in rods and cones. I will also address the impaired protein targeting caused by human mutations associated with retinitis pigmentosa and/or cone-rod dystrophies.?


12:00pm~12:10pm: Conclusive Remarks

12:10~2:00pm: Lunch break


Session 4: Development Genetics and Diseases

(Chaired by Ordan Lehmann & Calvin Pang)

2:00~2:40pm: Molecular Genomics of Myopia

Calvin C.P. Pang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Abstract: Myopia is known to be more prevalent and serious in East Asians than Caucasians. They are also more prone to develop high myopia which can lead to serious complications. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to development of myopia.? Since the mapping of the early myopia loci by genome wide linkage analysis in 1998 there has been a surge in identification of myopia associated loci, now exceeding 200 and spreading most chromosomes, mainly through family linkage analyses, candidate gene studies, pathway analysis, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and exome sequencing. Recent myopia gene mapping has utilized quantitative traits especially axial length, scleral equivalent, and cornea curvature. Some genetic variants have been validated and replicated in different populations. Reported myopia genes include ZFHX1B, ZC3H11B, TGF-1 CHRNG, CACNA1D, LAMA2, CYP26A1, BMP4 PRSS56, KCNQ5, TOX, ZIC2, SHISA6 CD55, CHD7, RORB, KCNMA1, A2BP1, GJD2, FAM150B-ACP1, LINC00340, FBN1, DIS3L-MAP2K1, ARID2-SNAT1 and SLC14A2,BLID, CTNND2, MIPEP, C1QTBF9B-AS1, C1QTNF9B, ZC3H11B, VIPR2 and SNTB1, and ZFHX1B. Recent exome analyses of families and trios have mapped CPSF1 and BSG respectively for early onset high myopia. Ongoing gene mapping involve metabolomics and transcriptomics to obtain more thorough genetic information for understanding of the mechanisms of myopia development and progression from lower grade to higher myopia.


2:40~3:20pm: Insights from pediatric glaucoma: extending the ciliopathy spectrum

Ordan Lehmann, University of Alberta, Canada

Abstract: Insights from pediatric glaucoma: extending the ciliopathy spectrum Cilia anomalies are responsible for a wide range of disease, however to date a contribution to glaucoma has not been defined. Amongst the numerous subtypes of glaucoma, alterations to the transcription factor FOXC1 induce both rare pediatric [Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome (ARS)] and common late-onset disease [primary open angle glaucoma].? The pleiotropy of ARS cases led us to evaluate whether there was a ciliary contribution in patients, and this was combined with assessment of cilia length and cilia-dependent signaling when Foxc1 dosage was manipulated in mammalian cell lines. Integrated with data from Foxc1 murine, and CRISPR-generated zebrafish mutants, our results support a model in which perturbation of cilia function contributes to FOXC1-induced glaucoma, plus an intriguingly wide range of pediatric and adult disease. The identification of novel mechanistic pathways provides new targets for potential therapeutic intervention.


3:20~3:30pm: Coffee break


3:30-4:10pm: Decipher CRX regulatory potential at specific target sites in photoreceptor development and disease

Shiming Chen, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

Abstract: CRX is a homeobox transcription factor essential for the development and maintenance of photoreceptor function. Human CRX mutations are linked to various photoreceptor diseases. It remains to be determined how CRX acts on the regulatory DNA sites of target genes during normal photoreceptor development, and how disease mutations disrupt CRX’s action. To address these questions, we profiled developmental changes in the epigenome at CRX-bound sites in wild-type (WT) mouse retinas, compared to retinas carrying a null Crx mutation (Crx-/-) or a disease-causing dominant mutation, E168d2. These results were correlated with RNAseq-measured gene expression changes and ChIPseq of WT or mutant CRX binding. This integrative analysis found: 1) A subset of CRX bound sites are “CRX-dependent”; these sites rely on CRX for chromatin remodeling and photoreceptor-specific gene activation. 2) In E168d2 retinas, the mutant CRX protein still binds to many sites where normal CRX binds, but binding affinity/specificity is altered at a subset of sites. 3) CRX-dependent chromatin remodeling is disrupted in both Crx-/- and E168d2 mutant retinas but the latter shows more severe changes, particularly at the sites where mutant CRX binding is reduced relative to WT CRX. These epigenomic differences between E168d2 and Crx-/- retinas correlate with the degree of photoreceptor gene expression changes and phenotype severity in photoreceptor cellular structure, function and survival observed in each mutant. Together, our results suggest that CRX is required for photoreceptor differentiation by facilitating chromatin remodeling at target sites of CRX-dependent genes. Dominant CRX mutations are more disruptive to CRX function than the null mutation, leading to further deficits in photoreceptor differentiation and survival. Future studies will decipher how dominant mutations affect CRX cis-regulatory grammar at specific sets of targets, providing insights into treatment strategies.


4:10~4:50pm: Retinal organoids: Modeling of human retinal development in a dish

Xiufeng Zhong: SKLO, Sun Yat-sen University

Abstract: Retina, a part of central nervous system, has been widely used for study of neural development in both cellular and molecular levels. With the advancement of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) technology, we have developed approaches to guide hPSCs (hESC/hiPSC) step by step to generate retinal cells, even organized mini-retinal tissues with functional photoreceptors, closely mimicking human retinal development in vivo (Zhong X and Canto-Soler MV, Nature Communications 2014; Li G & Zhong X, Stem Cells International 2018; Liu S & Zhong X, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018). Optimization of protocols for generation and long-term culture of retinal organoids will be presented. Promises and challenges in the field will be also discussed. This success provides a powerful model for the study of human retinal development and disease.


4:50~5:30pm: Diseased Retinas in a dish

Zibing Jin, Wenzhou Medical University, China

Abstract: Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and the capability of retinal differentiation enable us to generate patient-specific retinal organoids, which is useful for disease modeling and mechanism study. In this talk, I will showcase the iPSCs derived from patients with retinitis pigmentosa and allied diseases. Through retinal organoids differentiation, we are able to know the molecular changes in earlier stage and diseasing cellular phenotypes in dish. These studies recapitulated the pathogenesis of retinal degeneration using patient-specific organoids, providing a unique model for disease study.


5:30~5:40pm: Conclusive Remarks

6:00~8:00pm: Dinner receptions



Speaker Profile

YiZhi Liu
Prof. Yizhi Liu, MD, PhD. Prof. Yizhi Liu is Director of Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center (ZOC) at the Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU). He?serves as the chief scientist for the research projects granted by the National Program on Key Basic Research Project (973 Program) and the Science Fund for Creative Research Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

He has established a novel approach for lens regeneration in human, with results being published in Nature. The concept of harnessing endogenous stem cells for tissue repair was ranked as a Notable Advance in 2016 by Nature Medicine. He has developed a series of ophthalmology diagnosis and treatment technologies, including the Torsional Mode Phacoemulsification, which is now widely used in the world. He has more than 150 publications in prestigious journals including Science, N Engl J Med, Lancet, and BMJ. He has won the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation for Scientific and Technological Progress Award, the National Award for Science and Technology Progress, the China Youth Science and Technology Award, the Central Health Advanced Individual, and the National May 1st Labor Medal.

Prof. Liu is the Director of the State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology (SKLO). He is also a Vice-President of the Chinese Ophthalmological Society (COS), vice-President of Guangdong Medical Association, standing committee member of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO), as well as Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Vision and Associate Editor-in-Chief of Current Molecular Medicine.


Prof. Anand Swaroop, PhD. Dr. Swaroop obtained his Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.? After completing his postdoctoral training at Yale University in genetics, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology and in Human Genetics, became full professor in 2000, and held the Harold F. Falls Collegiate Professorship from 2003 to 2007.? In September 2007, Dr. Swaroop established N-NRL at the National Eye Institute to advance research in all aspects of retinal biology and disease.

The studies in Swaroop laboratory have focused primarily on genetic and epigenetic regulation of photoreceptor development and aging, genetic defects and mechanisms of photoreceptor dysfunction in retinal neurodegeneration, genetics of age-related macular degeneration, and design of new therapeutic paradigms using cell, gene or small molecule-based approaches. He has trained over 500 students, interns and fellows.? A number of his trainees hold faculty or scientist positions at institutions worldwide and in biomedical industry.

Dr. Swaroop has received many honors, including the Board of Director’s award from The Foundation Fighting Blindness for outstanding research in 2006 and the Harrington Senior Scientific Award from Research to Prevent Blindness.? In 2007, he got the Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award of the University of Michigan Medical School for his research accomplishments.? He was a recipient of the Bireswar Chakrabarti Memorial Oration Award in 2008 by the Indian Eye Research Group, inducted in the inaugural class of ARVO Fellows in 2009, and received the NEI Director’s award in 2010.? Dr. Swaroop received the prestigious Alcon Award for Outstanding Vision Research in 2011.? In Feb 2012, he was selected by ARVO as a Gold Fellow for his service to the vision community. In 2013, he was honored by NIH Director’s Ruth L. Kirschstein Award "For exemplary performance while demonstrating significant leadership, skill and ability in serving as a mentor."? Dr. Swaroop was granted Prof. P.N. Chhuttani Chair as Distinguished Medical Scientist (visiting) at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, India, during 2015-2016.

Dr. Swaroop has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles (Scopus h-index=70), invited chapters and reviews, and delivered more than 280 invited lectures worldwide. Dr. Swaroop is on the advisory and editorial boards and routinely reviews manuscripts for Cell, PLoS and Nature journals, J Neurosci, PNAS, AJHG, HMG, IOVS, and Mol Vis, among others.? He contributes to institutional committees for promotions and tenure and evaluates grants for several national and international funding agencies.?

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Prof. Seth Blackshaw, PhD. I have been using high-throughput approaches to analzying retinal development and disease since I was a postdoctoral fellow with Connie Cepko.? I have had a long-standing interest in the role of retinal Muller glia cells in regulating photoreceptor survival, have identified the transcrption factor Lhx2 as a central regulator of both reactive gliosis and expression of glial-derived neuroprotective factors, and more recently have shown Lhx2 to broadly regulate chromatin accessibility in retinal progenitor cells.? Under the NIH Audacious Goals Initiative, I have led an effort that has globally profiled transcriptomic and epigenomic changes in Muller glial cells from zebrafish, chick and mouse following multiple acute injury conditions.? Most recently, I have collaborated with both Drs. Qian and Handa to show that a large-scale reduction in chromatin accessibility occurs during progression of age-related macular degeneration, and that this is in part due to increased expression of HDAC11.


Prof. Wei Li, PhD. Dr. Li is currently a Senior Investigator (tenured professor) and Chief of the Retinal Neurobiology Section at National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health (NIH). The long-term goal of his research is to study the mammalian retina as a model for the central nervous system (CNS) -- to understand how it functions in physiological conditions, how it is formed, how it breaks down in pathological conditions, and how it can be repaired. The research topics in his laboratory include: 1) Studying color pathways in the ground squirrel retina. This is an excellent model system to study cone vision, as the ground squirrel is one of the rare mammals whose retina is cone-dominated and resembles the fovea of human retina. 2) Exploring metabolic adaptation in the ground squirrel eye during hibernation. 3) Probing retina bioenergetics with a focus on mitochondria structure, function and dynamics.


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Prof. Alain Chedotal, PhD. Dr Alain Chédotal, is currently Research director (DRCE) at INSERM, and group leader at the Vision institute in Paris. He was an undergrade at the ENS and Lyon University and received his PhD degree from Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris for graduate work with Constantino Sotelo on cerebellum development. He moved to UC Berkeley and completed his postdoctoral research with Corey Goodman where he worked on axon guidance and semaphorins. He was recruited at INSERM in 1997 and started his own laboratory at the Salpêtriere Hospital in Paris. He moved to the Institut de la Vision in 2008. Dr Chédotal was elected at the Academia Europaea, the French Academy of Sciences and is a member of the European Dana alliance for Brain Initiatives (EDAB). His lab studies axon guidance and regeneration in the visual system, neuronal migration and angiogenesis and has pioneered the use of tissue-clearing methods and light sheet microscopy.


Prof. Tian Xue, Ph.D. Dr. Xue is a professor at the college of life Science, the winner of Youth One-Thousand People Plan and Outstanding Youth Foundation. He is the youth chief scientist of National Key Scientific and Technology Project (2013). He won the international research funding of Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP, 2014). He has long been engaged in researches on photoreceptor neurobiology, including light signal transduction and neural circuitry, as well as the regeneration of photoreceptor cells. He published more than 25 SCI papers, and many papers of them are prestigious journals such as Nature Neuroscience Circulation Research Stem Cells, and Cell with more than 1000 citations.


Prof. Guotong Xu, MD, PhD. Dr. Xu graduated from Harbin Medical University in 1982. He later received a MD degree from Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and a PhD in pharmacology from University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC). After his postdoctoral training in Alcon Lab., Inc. and NEI/NIH, he was appointed as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at UNTHSC in 1994. He returned to China in 1997 to serve as the Director General of Sino-American Rainbow EyeCare Center in Nanjing (1997-1999), and then the China Country Director of ORBIS International Flying Eye Hospital (1999-2001), and Professor in Shanghai Key Laboratory of Developmenta Biology, Shanghai Second Medical University (2001-2003). In 2003, he jointed the Institute of Health Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and appointed as a Principal Investigator and Deputy Director in 2005, and the Acting Director in 2006. He joined Tongji University School of Medicine in 2008, and has led the medical school developing , from a middle level school, to the top 10% medical schools in China today.

Dr. Xu's research focuses on (1) stem cell-based therapy and gene therapy, and (2) age-related eye diseases and genetic eye diseases. Some of his achievements in eye research include the development of a new therapy for diabetic retinopathy with intravitreal injection of EPO, and the better understanding of the mechanism of the tumorigenicity and therapeutic effects of the transplanted ESCs-derived retinal progenitor cells, the intervention of retinal degeneration with adult stem cells, etc. He led the establishment and development of the China Stem Cell Bank with the support of a China National Major Research Program (973 program) and served as the first president of the China Society for Stem Cell Biology in 2007 He is now leading another 973 program: translational research on stem cell-based therapy for retinal degeneration.


Prof. Andy Peng Xiang, MD, PhD. Professor of Sun Yat-sen University; director of Key Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, Ministry of Education. Prof. Andy Peng Xiang graduated from Anhui University in 1994. From 1994 to 1999 he studied for the master and PhD program in West China University of Medical Sciences. After getting his doctorate, he obtained postdoctoral training in Sun Yat-sen University and University of Chicago/ Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

In 2004, he came back to China to establish Center for stem cell biology and tissue engineering and became the full professor in 2007. His research focused on stem cell transplantation and tissue regeneration. He is also very interested in the immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells and its clinical translation. So far, he has obtained more than 10 grants from National key R&D Program of China, The National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, et al. Prof. Xiang has published more than 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals as the corresponding author, such as Nature, Nat Commun, Mol Psychiatry, Hepatology, Leukemia, Cell Res, PNAS, etc.



Prof. Baoyang Hu, PhD. Baoyang Hu is a Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Zoology (IOZ), Chinese academy of Sciences (CAS), known for his work in neural differentiation from human pluripotent stem cells. He was appointed the deputy director of State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in 2015, and the Vice President of the Savaid Medical School at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016.

Dr. Hu got his medical degree from the Jining Medical University in 1995, where he spent another 4 years teaching Anatomy before going to the Fudan University for his Ph. D. degree in Embryology. In 2005, Hu went to Dr. Su-Chun Zhang's stem cell research lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working on on neural differentiation. He joined the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2011 through the "One Hundred Talents Program".

Dr. Hu has differentiated the human embryonic stem cells (hESC) into functional neurons and glia for cure of diseases such as stroke, Parkinson's disease and motor neuron diseases. He has published a series of papers on prestigious journals such as Cell Stem Cells, PNAS, Cell Research and Development. Dr. Hu and his team will continue to explore the molecular mechanisms of neural differentiation and the uniqueness of human biology. Using a lately developed protocol of cerebral organoid culture from hPSCs, they will discover the mechanisms of an evolutionary enlarged and gyrified human brain. This will allow them to develop protocols for massively production of functional human cells, either through directed differentiation from PSCs or by direct conversion from other types of somatic cells. They will also dedicate to translating the stem cell research into application by accredation of these cells for treating relevant neurological diseases.


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Prof. Mengqing Xiang, PhD. Dr. Xiang is currently a Professor at the State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University. He received his BS degree in plant genetics from Sun Yat-sen University in 1985, and earned his Ph.D. degree in molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1991. Before joining Rutgers University as an Assistant Professor in 1996, Dr. Xiang conducted his postdoctoral studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He was promoted to tenured Associate Professor in 2002 and full Professor in 2006 at Rutgers. He has received a number of honors and awards including the CUSBEA Graduate Study Fellowship, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award, Sinsheimer Scholar Award, Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, LLP Award in Auditory Science, Expert in the One-Thousand Talent Program, and Medical Leading Talent in Guangdong Province.

Dr. Xiang’s research group is one of the leading world players in retinal and sensorineural development studies, has made multiple original and systematic contributions in these areas including identification of retinogenic transcription factors involved in retinal ganglion cell determination and differentiation.These findings have provided not only an entry point for studying gene regulatory network of retinal ganglion cell development but also a useful molecular marker, which is widely used as the gold standard for identifying retinal ganglion cells in studies of retinal stem cells and glaucoma. His group for first time reprogrammed rodent and human somatic cells into iNSCs using a single non-neural progenitor transcription factor (i.e. Ptf1a), which overturns certain conventional concepts and is of great significance for the research and treatment of neurological diseases. Dr. Xiang has thus far published more than 70 SCI articles including numerous in internationally renowned journals such as Neuron, Nat Commun, PNAS, J Neurosci, Development.


Prof. Zhonghua Liu, PhD. Dr. Zhonghua Liu is the “Longjiang scholar” distinguished professor in the College of Life Science, North-east Agricultural University, director of Heilongjiang province key laboratory of animal cellular and genetic bio-engineering. He also is the Leading Researcher in Science and Technology of Ten Thousand Talent Program.? Dr. Liu’s research interests focus on molecular regulation of porcine early stage embryonic development and derivation of porcine pluripotent stem cell lines. His research group got the first litters of somatic cell nuclear transfer pigs and the first litters of GFP transgenic pig in China, and these results got first level Award for Progress in Science and Technology in Heilongjiang Province, and also got second level Award of National Prize for Progress in Science and Technology. He published more than 50 papers during the past five years on the journals like Development, EMBO Reports, JBC, Developmental Biology et al. He is the committee of Chinese Society for Stem Cell Research (CSSCR), the branch of Chinese Society for Cell Biology(CSCB).


Prof. CHAN Sun-On Hector ??? graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong with a BSc degree in Biology. He then studied a MPhil degree in Neuroscience at the Department of Anatomy. He was awarded the Croucher Foundation Scholarship to study a DPhil programme in Neuroscience in University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Ray Guillery.

After graduation, he moved back to Hong Kong and started to teach in the Department of Anatomy (now School of Biomedical Sciences) as a lecturer, Associate Professor and Professor. His major research interests are on development of visual pathway and recently mechanisms of ocular inflammation and its protection.


Prof. Sumiko Watanabe Dr. Sumiko Watanabe is a professor of The Institute of Medical Science of Tokyo University. Her research focuses on general stem cell mechanisms involved in the development and regeneration of higher level structures in a constituent of the central nervous system, the eye. This research is aimed at elucidating tissue stem cell-specific mechanisms, but the underpinnings of these studies have been the knowledge and techniques of signal transduction and DNA synthesis that the cytokine research nurtured, giving us the tools to unravel the processes by which organs develop and regenerate. . Currently, her lab is investigating the following subjects: 1) Eye (retina) development and regeneration; 2) Screening for novel genes involved in early eye development; 3) Screening for retina stem cells and determination of cell lineages; 4) Establishment of iPS from patients of inherited retinal degeneration diseases; and 5) Functional analysis of candidate cancer genes that have been identified through transposon mutagenesis screens.

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Prof. Chunqiao Liu, PhD. Dr. Chunqiao Liu is a senior investigator at the State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China. He received his PhD at the Institute of Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing, China. Before joined Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, he was an invited visiting scholar at National Cancer Institute, a Carnegie research fellow at Johns Hopkins University. He later joined National Eye Institute as a Staff Scientist Investigator under title 42 track. His lab focuses on illustration of signaling pathway-evoked genetic and epigenetic programs on ocular development and diseases, and development of knowledge-based treatment strategy for intervention of ocular diseases using cutting-edge genetic tools and stem cell technologies. He published more than 20 high-quality research papers in prestigious journals. He additionally serves scientific community as editorial board members and reviewers/referees for journals and conferences.


Prof. David Wancheng Li, PhD. Dr. Li received his Ph.D. in MCB from University of Washington in Seattle under the supervision of Dr. Lynn M. Riddiford, member of National Academy of Sciences in USA, and conducted his Postdoctoral training in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and Ophthalmology in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City under mentorship of Dr. Abraham Spector, Malcolm P. Aldrich Research Professor of Ophthalmology.? He is currently an elected One-Hundred-Talent Professor of Ophthalmology in the State Key Laboratory of Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center in the Sun Yat-Sen University, and a Visiting Research Professor of Biomedical Sciences in the Center for Virology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.? Dr. Li has served as a Trustee Member of the Asian Cataract Association and US-Japan Cooperative Cataract Research Association since 2006, and a Standing Committee Member of the Basic Science Committee of the Chinese Ophthalmic Society. He is a regular member of ARVO, ISER, EVER, ASCB, ASCR, and ISSCR. As PI, he has received numerous NIH R01 grants, NSFC grants and other grants in a total of over 5-million US dollars to support his research.? He has been invited to give lectures in USA, China, Germany, and England, etc. He has made numerous scientific discoveries in vision sciences and cancer research, trained over 60 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members in USA and China, authored over 100 articles, received the outstanding cataract research award from National Foundation for Eye Research in 2006.


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Prof. Ching-Hwa Sung, PhD. My lab is focused on elucidating the polarity, the membrane trafficking, the ciliary dynamics of the mammalian photoreceptors. My interests in these subjects date back my postdoc work identifying the first cohort of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) rhodopsin mutations and documenting their defects. RP is a major cause of irreversible blindness characterized by rod cell death. These observations have spurred studies on the photoreceptor outer segment localization of rhodopsin by uncovering its sorting signal, transporting motors, membrane tethers, and accessory regulators, as well as light as a regulatory environmental factor of rhodopsin’s trafficking. My laboratory has propelled the research field by applying my deep knowledge of the cell biology together with cutting-edge techniques and the innovation of new research tools. The medical relevance of our work is high because mistrafficking and outer segment disc disorganization are relevant to the pathophysiology of many forms of retinal degeneration. More recently, we have expanded our research interest to include the mechanisms of organelle and metabolic homeostasis of RPE and cone cells in macular degeneration and cone rod dystrophies. I am the Founding Editor of Molecular Neurodegeneration and Cilia. I have trained numerous students and postdoctoral fellows. Several of my trainees have received awards for research carried out under my supervision, including the Julian Rachele Prize and John Metcalf Polk Prize (highest student honors for published scientific research). Many of the trainees from my lab have gone on to faculty positions in academic science, leadership positions in the biotech industry, and investigator positions in research institutions.


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Calvin Chi Pui Pang, BSc (Lond) DPhil (Oxon), FARVO . Prof. Pang is S.H. Ho Professor of Visual Sciences, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Director of Shantou University/CUHK Joint Shantou International Eye Center, and former Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at CUHK. Prof Pang’s current research includes molecular genomics and mechanisms of complex eye diseases including POAG, PACG, AMD, PCV, myopia, and keratoconus, and monogenic eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and retinoblastoma. He also studies risk factors of children eye diseases, and ophthalmic effects of green tea catechins, other small herbal molecules and short neuropeptides. He is reviewer for the Wellcome Trust (UK), National Eye Institute (USA), National Medical Research Council (Singapore), National Health & Medical Research Council (Australia), National Science Foundation China, Changjiang Scholar Program China and other funding organisations. He is academic reviewer, examiner and honorary/visiting professor of more than 60 clinical and research institutions in Hong Kong, mainland China and overseas. He also serves as convener of visual sciences programmes in APAO and WOC congresses. Prof Pang has contributed >25 book chapters and >430 publications in SCI journals, total citations >14,800 times and H-index 66 by Google Scholar.


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Prof. Ordan Lehmann, MD. As a clinician-scientist, Dr. Lehmann's interest in inherited ocular disease enabled his laboratory to use small chromosomal anomalies as starting points to identify pathways central to ocular morphogenesis. This led to parallel studies of the Forkhead transcription factor FOXC1, and separately that of bone morphogenetic proteins, identifying broader clinical phenotypes that include the contribution of FOXC1 mutation to cerebellar maldevelopment, corneal angiogenesis and stroke, as well as glaucoma. Dr. Lehmann is grant funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Alberta Innovates and other agencies, and leads an inter-disciplinary team of vision scientists at the Universities of Alberta and Calgary.


Prof. Shiming Chen, PhD. Dr. Chen is Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and of Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Dr. Chen received her PhD degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from the State University of New York-Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Ophthalmology under the mentorship of Dr. Donald J. Zack at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine before joining the Washington University faculty in 1998.?

Dr. Chen uses mouse models to decipher the molecular mechanisms regulating gene expression in photoreceptor neurons and how misregulation leads to blinding diseases. She studies the cone-rod homeobox protein CRX, a master transcription factor essential for photoreceptor development and maintenance. Using functional genomics, Dr. Chen identified a set of CRX-dependent regulatory DNA sites where CRX binds and directs chromatin remodeling for cell type-specific gene activation during photoreceptor differentiation. Currently, Dr. Chen investigates how human CRX mutations disrupt normal CRX action to produce dominant retinopathies. Her ultimate goal is to develop mechanism-based treatment strategies for photoreceptor diseases associated with misregulated gene expression.?

Dr. Chen has authored many peer-reviewed scientific articles, and her research has been continuously supported by NIH grants for more than 20 years. Dr. Chen has served on review panels of NIH study sections – as a regular member of “Biology and Diseases of the Posterior Eye” (BDPE) in 2007-2011, and as an ad hoc member on other panels in recent years.? Dr. Chen has received a Career Development Award, the Sybil B. Harrington Scholar Award, and the Lew R. Wasserman Merit Award from Research to Prevent Blindness.


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Prof. Xiufeng Zhong, PhD. Dr. Xiufeng Zhong is a professor and P.I. at Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU), Guangzhou, China. She received her MD degree from Nanchang University and PhD degree in Ophthalmology from SYSU, and completed her 6-year postdoc research at Wilmer Eye Institute, JHU in 2014. Her clinic service and basic research have been extensively involved in retinal diseases, development and stem cell biology. In these areas, she has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers, 2 books, 8 issued patents. Her study, for the first time, demonstrate that hiPSCs can generate functional retina with light-sensing photoreceptors in vitro,holding a huge promise for blindness. ?Her work has been cited more than 700 times and attracted major media attention. Her research has been supported from many funding bodies including Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the National Key R&D Program of China, Science and Tech Project from Guangdong Province and Guangzhou City. She was the recipient of SYSU “Hundred-Talent Program” award and Guest Lecturer in 2016 Visiting Professor Program of Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic. Prof. Zhong has served as Reviewer for NSFC and many international journals. She is also a member of Editorial Board of Chinese Journal of Cell and Stem Cell, Guest Editor of Stem Cell Internationals


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Prof. Zibing Jin, MD, PhD. Dr. Jin is the professor of Wenzhou Medical University (WMU) and director of The Stem Cell Research Institute, WMU. He is heading the Laboratory for Stem Cell and Retinal Regeneration as well as the Division of Ophthalmic Genetics, The Eye Hospital of WMU. He received 3-year resident training in Ophthalmology after obtain his M.D. (MBBS) from Wenzhou Medical College in 2000. He obtained Ph.D degree from University of Miyazaki in 2007 and then worked for 2-year as a postdoctoral fellow (JSPS fellowship) and 2-year research scientist (FPR) at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology under Dr. Masayo Takahashi’s supervision before returning to Wenzhou Medical College (renamed as University in 2013) in 2011. He focuses on stem cell translational medicine and genetic mechanisms of ocular diseases. His lab is dedicating to make efforts on elucidating the disease mechanisms of inherited retinal degeneration and children ocular disorders, translating laboratory technology to improve bedside outcome, and solving key basic problems together with retina specialists. He is also developing RPE/photoreceptor replacement therapy using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and bio-degradable scaffolds. For the first time, he established RP patient-derived iPS cells and retina.