Pr José Alain Sahel – Founder
José-Alain Sahel studied medicine at the Medical School of Paris University and ophthalmology at the University of Strasbourg and at Harvard University (Boston-Cambridge, USA). He was appointed Professor of Ophthalmology at the University Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg. Currently, José-Alain Sahel is Professor of Ophthalmology at Pierre and Marie Curie University Medical School, Paris, France and Cumberlege Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the Institute of Ophthalmology-University College London, UK. He chairs the Departments of Ophthalmology at the Quinze-Vingts National Eye Hospital and at the Rothschild Ophthalmology Foundation. In 2016, he was appointed Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and The Eye and Ear Foundation Endowed Chair.
The primary focus of Sahel’s fundamental and clinical research is the understanding of the mechanisms associated with retinal degeneration, together with the conception, development and evaluation of innovative treatments for retinal diseases, with a special focus on genetic rod-cone dystrophies (e.g. neuroprotection, stem cells, gene therapy, pharmacology, and artificial retina). The group of José-Alain Sahel (with Saddek Mohand-Said and Thierry Léveillard) was the first to hypothesize and demonstrate that rod photoreceptors produce a protein that rescues cone photoreceptors, thereby maintaining light-adapted and high-resolution vision. This molecule, Rod-derived Cone Viability Factor (RdCVF), is now in translation into a possible therapeutic agent to save cones and treat a spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. Once rods and cones have degenerated, optogenetics -a promising novel therapeutic strategy- provides alternative to restore vision. Sahel‘s group (with Serge Picaud and Botond Roska at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research) demonstrated that different retinal cell types such as “dormant cones” can be converted into “artificial photoreceptors” by targeting the expression of genetically encoded light sensors enabling mice with retinal degeneration to perform visually guided behaviors. Besides research on developmental biology, functional genomics, physiology and therapeutics, Sahel’s laboratory (with Michel Paques, Saddek Mohand-Said and Isabelle Audo) conducts research on genotype-phenotype correlations with high resolution in vivo non-invasive high-resolution retinal imaging techniques (optical coherence tomography and adaptive optics) aiming at identifying patients eligible for clinical application of innovative therapies. Together with Mathis Fink (Institut Langevin) he is the principal investigator of a very large ERC-synergy grant (HELMHOLTZ) aiming at developing novel technologies for morpho-functional imaging of the visual system.
Thierry Léveillard, Founder
Thierry Léveillard, PhD on Cellular and Molecular Biology, is Inserm Director or Research at Vision Institute (Paris) and head of Genetics Department.
After several years of research in USA, in at UCSD and the Salk Institute and UCSC, he joined Genetics, Cellular and Molecular Biology Institute (IGBMC), then the Inserm laboratory at Strasbourg Louis Pasteur University.
Author of several scientific reference publications in the field of genetics, he is co-founder, among other, of Rod derived Cone Viability Factor, the RdCVF.
He has received numerous international awards, including the 1997 Neuronal Plasticity IPSEN Award, the 2005 Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) Trustee Award and the 2015 Prix de la fondation de l’oeil (Fondation de France).
Thierry Léveillard is founder and, as scientific adviser for SparingVision, intervenes in all the phases of R and D regarding development of the viral vectors, in particular the realization of preclinical regulatory.
Florence Allouche Ghrenassia, President
Florence Allouche Ghrenassia is Pharmacist Doctor (Pharm D.), specialist in Intellectual property and tech transfer, Business developer, graduate from HEC Paris, she is Associate Professor at Paris Descartes University, for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Chair dedicated to Innovation at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Paris.
After positions in pharmaceutical industry, then in charge of R&D programs at Beckman Coulter, she created in 2000 the Office of Tech Transfer, Licensing & Industrial Ventures of Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (OTT&PI) that she headed during 16 years. She enabled up to 2000 partnerships with biotech/Medtech companies on R&D programs, regarding development of drugs for orphan and neglected diseases
She supported more than 70 young companies spin off from innovative technologies and products and created APinnov, annual Tech Transfer & business meetings Day of AP-HP.
She is now President, CEO of SparingVision from July 2016.