Prof Eyal Banin, Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel

Professor Eyal Banin is Director of the Center for Retinal and Macular Degenerations (CRMD) at the Department of Ophthalmology at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel.  He is a graduate of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine, holds a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the Hebrew University, and completed his ophthalmology residency at Hadassah Medical Center in 1998. Following a post-doctoral and medical retina fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute in Philadelphia, he was appointed head of the Medical Retina Service and the CRMD at Hadassah. His main clinical and research focus is in the field of retinal and macular degenerations, including the development and application of novel cell- and gene-based therapies for these diseases. The recipient of many research grants from Israeli and foreign institutions, Dr. Banin has authored and published over 110 papers and articles in leading medical journals.

Prof  Jean Bennett, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, USA

Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, the F.M. Kirby Professor of Ophthalmology, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Co-Director of the Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT) at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She has developed gene transfer approaches to test treatment strategies for retinal degenerative and ocular neovascular diseases, to elucidate retinal differentiation pathways and to identify pathogenetic mechanisms that lead to blindness.  Her research with Dr. Albert Maguire, conducted at UPenn over the past 25 years, has established the scientific underpinnings which made it possible to test the first potential definitive retinal gene therapy treatment for patients with blinding retinal degenerations. Dr. Bennett is the Scientific Director of gene therapy clinical trials for a congenital blindness. These studies, carried out at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and sponsored by Spark Therapeutics, are in follow-up in Phase 3 (pivotal) studies and could lead to approval of the first ocular gene therapy drug. This could also be the first approved gene therapy drug in the USA and the first approved gene therapy for a blinding disorder worldwide.  A second study in progress at CAROT, carried out at UPenn and at CHOP, targets a blinding disease called Choroideremia. Dr. Bennett’s Center continues to work hard to develop treatments that could be applied to other genetic and acquired blinding conditions.

Prof Pierre Chambon,IGBMC, Strasbourg, France

Pierre Chambon, who is Professor of Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Strasbourg University, is Honorary Professor at the Collège de France (Paris), and Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Strasbourg University. He is the founder and former Director of the Institute for Genetics and Cellular and Molecular Biology (IGBMC), and the founder and former Director of the Institut Clinique de la Souris (ICS/MCI), in Strasbourg, France.

Over the last 50 years, his scientific achievements are logically inscribed in an uninterrupted series of discoveries in the field of transcriptional control of gene expression in higher eukaryotes: discovery of PolyADPRibose (1963), discovery of multiple RNA polymerases (1969), major contribution to the elucidation of chromatin structure, the Nucleosome (1974), discovery of animal split genes (1977), discovery of multiple promoter elements and their cognate factors (1980-1993) and of transcriptional enhancers (1981). During the last 30 years his studies on the structure and function of nuclear receptors have changed our concept of signal transduction and endocrinology. By cloning the estrogen and progesterone receptors, and discovering the retinoic acid receptor family, Pierre Chambon markedly contributed to the discovery of the superfamily of nuclear receptors, and to the elucidation of their universal mechanism of action that links transcription, physiology and pathology. Through extensive site-directed mutagenesis and genetic studies in the mouse, Pierre Chambon unveiled the paramount importance of nuclear receptor signaling in embryonic development and homeostasis at the adult stage. These discoveries have revolutionized the fields of development, endocrinology and metabolism, and their disorders, pointing to new tactics for drug discovery, and finding important applications in biotechnology and modern medicine.

Pierre Chambon, author of more than 900 publications, has been ranked fourth among most prominent life scientist during the 1983-2002 period. He has received numerous international awards, including the 1979 Médaille d’Or du CNRS, the 1999 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology and Biochemistry, the 2003 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the 2004 Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the 2010 Gairdner Foundation International Award. He is a Member of the French Académie des Sciences, and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europaea, the Academie Royale de Medicine of Belgium, and the Chinese Society of Genetics, and is also Doctor Honoris causa of several Universities. Pierre Chambon is Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur et Grand Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.

Prof Jacque Duncan, University of California, San Francisco, USA

Dr. Duncan has over 16 years of experience treating and characterizing patients with retinal degenerations. She earned a medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco, where she also completed an ophthalmology residency. Dr. Duncan then completed a medical retina fellowship at the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on patients with age-related macular degeneration and inherited retinal degeneration. She returned to UCSF and joined the faculty in 2000. She is a professor of clinical ophthalmology at UCSF.
As a translational clinician-scientist and Director of the Retinal Degenerations Clinic and Retinal Electrophysiology Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Dr Duncan has expertise in the diagnosis and management of patients with retinal degenerations.
In her research, she is studying treatments to preserve vision and to develop new outcome measures to monitor photoreceptor survival during the course of disease progression.
She has received research funding from the US Food and Drug Administration Office of Orphan Product Development, The Foundation Fighting Blindness, Research to Prevent Blindness, the Lowy Macular Research Institute, the Beckman Institute for Macular Research, Karl Kirchgessner Foundation, Hope for Vision, and the American Geriatrics Society.

Prof  Arne Holmgren, Karolinska Institute,  Stockholm, Sweden

Pr. Holmgren obtained his B.M (1962) from the Medical Faculty at Uppsala University and a PhD (1968) in Medical Chemistry and an MD (1974) degree from Karolinska Institute (KI) in Stockholm. He became a University Lecturer 1970-1973 and Associate Professor in Medical Enzymology 1973-1983. During 1983-1990 he was a Professor in Protein Chemistry and Enzymology at KI. From 1991 – 2007 Pr. Holmgren was professor of Biochemistry at KI and Director of the Medical Nobel Institute for Biochemistry. Since 1987 he is a Vising  professor at Molecular Biology Department of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla California. Pr. Holmgren was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in 1991 and EMBO in 1992. He was a member of the Medical Nobel Asssembly at KI 1991-2008. He has received several scientific prizes including the Eric. K. Fernstrom Nordic Prize (1997) in Medical Research for his pioneering  studies of  redoxins- enzymes of central importance for cellular functions.

Pr. Holmgren’s research involves discoveries of the structure and function of bacterial and mammalian thioredoxins and thioredoxin reductases and discovery of glutaredoxins. His recent efforts are directed toward developing novel antibiotics and characterizing the function of mammalian selenium-containg thioredoxin reductases and conditional knockouts of thioredoxin in mice and the function of ribonucleotide reductase.
Pr. Holmgren is an author of around 420 publications, which are cited more than 40.000 times.