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Eyecatching News Archive

NYC school to let students pursue degree at Upstate

Upstate Medical University and the SUNY College of Optometry are joining forces to help increase the number of trained eye doctors in Central and Western New York. This partnership provides an affordable option for aspiring eye care professionals, according to Robert Fechtner, MD, professor and chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Upstate... View Article

Helping Natalie See

Pediatric vision care team treats youngster’s cataracts, glaucoma
Natalie Baumgartner’s mother, Ryan Earl, remembers the day her daughter smiled at a brightly colored book. “I remember just being overjoyed.” Until that moment, it wasn’t clear that her daughter would ever be able to see... View Article

Upstate, SUNY College of Optometry join forces to address eye care workforce needs and access in Upstate New York

Upstate Medical University and the SUNY College of Optometry will join forces to improve access to health care through growing the number of eye doctors in Central and Western New York... View Article

Ophthalmology Chair Receives International Award

Robert D. Fechtner, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology received the Founders Award of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA), at their meeting in Melbourne, Australia, in March.  Dr. Fechtner received this award "in grateful appreciation for six years of distinguished service as WGA Executive Vice President."

Robert B. Barlow Vision Seminar Series

Adriana Di Polo, PhD - will present "Neuronal and Vascular Dysfunction in Glaucoma: New Insights" on Wednesday, June 14, 2023 @ 4:00 pm in room 4709 in the Neuroscience Research Building. Dr. Di Polo is Professor of Neuroscience, University of Montreal, Canada Research Chair in Glaucoma and Age-related Neurodegeneration.

Research to Prevent Blindness Awards Unrestricted Grant to Department of Ophthalmology

The State University of New Upstate Medical University has been granted an Unrestricted Grant by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) in the amount of $115,000 a year for multiple years to support eye research conducted by the Department of Ophthalmology through the Center for Vision Research (www.upstate.edu/cvr). This funding has been based on a thorough review of criteria, including the department’s research activities, laboratory environment, and clinical and scientific staff, as evaluated by RPB’s renowned Scientific Advisory Panel.

The funds will be deployed at the discretion of Dr. Robert Fechtner, Department Chair, to provide maximum flexibility in developing and expanding eye research programs and to provide opportunities for creative planning that go beyond the scope of restricted project grants.

Upstate Medical University holds one of 37 RPB Unrestricted Grants nationwide (there are over 125 eligible departments).  Moreover, Upstate’s award is one of four RPB Unrestricted Grants in all of New York State and the only such grant in the SUNY system.

"Research to Prevent Blindness is the largest supporter of vision research outside of the Federal Government and is dedicated to supporting vision research at all levels,” said Robert F. Fechtner, MD, Chair of SUNY Upstate’s Department of Ophthalmology. "The unrestricted departmental funds can act as seed money to support novel ideas that haven’t been funded through other sources yet, to help researchers who need additional support, and to help veteran researchers continue their investigations when they are between funding” said Fechtner.

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled more than $355 million into to medical institutions for research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of blinding eye diseases. For information on RPB’s grant program, listings of RPB institutional and individual grantees, and findings generated by these awards, go to www.rpbusa.org.

“This current award recognizes both the excellence in our current research portfolio and the realistic potential for expansion in the near future,” said William J. Brunken, PhD, Director of the Center for Vision Research “The award is particularly noteworthy as RPB is focusing its programs on the strongest vision research programs in the nation.”

The current award reestablishes funding that began in 1998. From 1998 to 2013, RPB provided SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Department of Ophthalmology with more than $2.73 million. The Department has attracted more than $32.3 million in peer-reviewed funding from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and other agencies and lists among its funding sources $1.2 million from the Grateful Patient campaign of the Upstate Medical University Foundation and $250,000 from the Lions Clubs of District 20-Y1.

If anyone would like a tour of the Center for Vision Research’s laboratory facilities, please contact Carol Miller, Research Program Administrator, at (315) 464-5241.


Robert B. Barlow Vision Research Seminar Series

  • 2021

    Eric A. Moulton, OD, PhD - Optometrist-Boston's Children's Hospital, Dept. of Ophthalmology; Assistant Professor-Harvard Medical School - virtually presented "fMRI of pain-related processing in the trigeminal system and photophobia" on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 @ 4:00 p.m. via Zoom.

    Eric Ng, PhD - Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology @ Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass Eye and Ear - virtually presented "The role of innate immune response and endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition in the pathogenesis and disease progression of choroidal neovascularization" on Wednesday, March 10, 2021@ 4:00 p.m. via Zoom.

    Gopalan Gnanaguru, PhD - Instructor in Ophthalmology @ Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School - virtually presented "Microglia - a key regulator of neurovascular spatial patterning" on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 @ 4:00 pm via Zoom.

    Malia Edwards, PhD - Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute - virtually will presented "Glial exodus from the retina in AMD" on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 @ 4:00 p.m. via Zoom.

  • 2020

    Abigail S. Hackam, PhD - Professor of Ophthalmology Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine - presented "Novel approaches for inducing regeneration of the injured retina" on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 @ 4:00 p.m. in the Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

  • 2019

    Dritan Agalliu, PhD - Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurology, Pathology, and Cell Biology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center - presented "Mechanisms of blood-brain barrier development, breakdown, and repair in the CNS" on Friday, March 15, 2019 @ 12:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Stephen M. Redenti, PhD - Associate Professor, Departments of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, City University of New York, Lehman College - presented "Retinal exosomes in development and disease" on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Rachel W. Kuchtey, MD, PhD - Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Vanderbilt University - presented "Fibrillinopathy and elastosis in Glaucoma" on Wednesday, July 17, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Louis R. Pasquale, MD - Professor of Ophthalmology at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - presented "Insights gained from advances in Glaucoma genetics" on Monday, September 9, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Kirill Martemyanov, PhD, Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of Neuroscience, The Scripps Research Institute - presented "Molecular organization of the first visual synapse" on Friday, September 20, 2019 @ 12:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    W. Daniel Stamer, PhD, Joseph A. C. Wadsworth Professor of Ophthalmology and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University - presented "Modifying outflow: The future of glaucoma therapies" on Friday, November 8, 2019 @ 12:00 p.m. in the Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Michel Cayouette, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicine, Universityé de Montréal, QC, Canada - presented "Building and rebuilding the retina" on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m. in the Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Eric A. Pierce, MD, PhD, Director of Inherited Retinal Disorders, William F. Chatlos Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School - presented "Genetic causes of and treatments for inherited retinal degenerations" on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m. in the Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

  • 2018

    Dacheng Ren, PhD - Stevenson Endowed Professor, Interim Director, Syracuse Biomaterials Institute, Professor, Dept. of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, Chemical Engineering Graduate Program Director, Syracuse University, will present "Sleep number of bacteria: effects of material stiffness on bacterial attachment and biofilm formation" on Wednesday, February 14 @ 4:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building (IHP Expansion), Room 4709.

    Terri Young, MD, PhD - Peter A. Duehr Professor of Ophthalmology, Chair Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI - will present "Childhood Glaucoma Genetics" on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709. [Date change]

    Gareth Howell, PhD - Associate Professor, The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME - will present "Preserving vascular health to prevent neurodegeneration" on Friday, June 8, 2018 @ 12:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Deborah A. Ferrington, PhD - Professor and Director of Research, Elaine and Robert Larson Endowed Vision Research Chair, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences, University of Minnesota - will present "Matching therapy to disease mechanism: Targeting the mitochondria to treat age-related macular degeneration" on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 @ 4:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

    Sheila A. Baker, PhD - Associate Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences; Associate Professor of Biochemistry; Carver College of Medicine; University of Iowa- will present "Held up at the starting line: Regulating the trafficking of HCN1 channels" on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 @ 4:00 p.m. in Neuroscience Research Building, Room 4709.

  • 2017

    David Krizaj, PhD – Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Deputy Director of Research, Moran Eye Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine - will present "Sensory integration in retinal ganglion cells: What does the mouse retina tell the mouse brain?" on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Wallace B. Thoreson, PhD – Gilmore Professor, Vice Chair, and Research Director, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Truhlsen Eye Institute, Professor, Pharmacology & Experimental Neuroscience, University of Nebraska Medical Center - will present "Release at ribbon synapses of rods and cones in the vertebrate retina" on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Mark M. Emerson, PhD – Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, The City College of New York - will present "Illuminating the developmental origins of neuronal diversity through cis-regulatory analysis" on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Andrew D. Huberman, PhD - Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine - will present "Retina and visual pathways: Function and wiring" on Thursday, April 6, 2017 @ 12:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Muayyad R. Al-Ubaidi, PhD - Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston - will present "Retbindin's role in retinal homeostasis" on Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 12:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Stephen Tsang, MD, PhD - Lazlo Z. Bito Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University - will present "Of mice and men: Targeting pathways in precision medicine" on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 @ 12:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD - Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology, Case Western Reserve University - will present "Chemistry of vision and inherited retinal disease” on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 12:00 p.m. in the NRB 4709.

    Scott W. Cousins, MD - Professor of Ophthalmology, Robert Machemer, MD-Professor of Ophthalmology, Vice Chair, Research-Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine - will present "Rationale for mitochondrial dysfunction in dry AMD: Prospects for mitochondria-targeted therapies" on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 12:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Maribel Vazquez, ScD - Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, The City College of New York, - will present "Microfluidics for the visual system" on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

  • 2016

    Sarah X. Zhang, MD – Associate Professor of Ophthalmology University at Buffalo, SUNY –presented “ER chaperones and the UPR in the retina and retinal disease” on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Lin Gan, PhD – Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Rochester – presented Molecular mechanisms for the development of retinal ganglion cells” on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Deborah L. Stenkamp, PhD – Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho – presented "Seeing double: Regulation of tandemly duplicated opsins in the zebrafish" on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Ronald G. Gregg  PhD – Professor and Chair of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Louisville - will present "Architecture and signaling at the first retinal synapse" on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Amy Kiernan, PhD - Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Rochester - will present "Notch signaling during sensory cell development in the inner ear" on Friday, May 20, 2016 @ 12:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Audrey M. Bernstein, PhD – Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai - will present "The cell biology of pathological protein accumulation in corneal scarring and glaucoma" on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Silvia C. Finnemann, PhD – Professor, Department of Biological Sciences at Fordham University - will present "Timing is everything: Molecular mechanism of photoreceptor outer segment renewal" on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 @ 12:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Xiangyun Wei, PhD – Associate Professor, Departments of Ophthalmology and Developmental Biology, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine - will present "Roles of apical cell-cell adhesion in neural development and maintenance" on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Larry I. Benowitz, PhD - Professor of Neurosurgery and Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School - will present "Optic nerve regeneration: Oncomodulin, pten, zinc, and other actors" on Friday, October 21, 2016 @ 12:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

    Jeffrey M. Gross, PhD – E. Ronald Salvitti Chair in Ophthalmology Research, Professor of Ophthalmology and Developmental Biology, Director, Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine - will present "Epigenetic regulation of retinal development" on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m. in NRB 4709.

  • 2015

    Timothy Kraft, PhD - Associate Professor of Vision Sciences and Neurobiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham – presented "Light induced hypersensitivity in mice and men, a night's tale" on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 @ 3:00 p.m.

    Susan Udin, PhD - Professor of Physiology at University at Buffalo, State University of New York – presented "NMDA receptors rule: From the tectum to the shin" on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 @ 3:00 p.m.

    Maureen McCall, PhD Professor Depart Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences University of Louisville – presented "Congenital stationary night blindness: Three simple mutants and their complex outcomes" on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 @ 4:00 p.m.

    Nadean Brown, PhD – Associate Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy at the University of California-Davis in Davis, CA – presented "Roles for the optic nerve head in compartmentalizing the embryonic mouse eye" on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 @ 4:00 p.m.

    Jonathan Demb, PhD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Physiology Yale University – presented "Synaptic mechanisms for visual computation in retinal circuitry" on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 @ 4:00 p.m.

    Ben G. Szaro, PhD Professor Department of Biological Science, University at Albany, SUNY – presented "Decoding the intrinsic molecular mechanisms underlying successful optic axon regeneration” on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 @ 4:00 p.m.

Distinguished Lecture in Vision Series




Distinguished Service Award

Photo courtesy of Marc J. Safran, MD

John A. Hoepner, MD was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from Onondaga County Medical Society. At their annual dinner meeting on November 2, 2009, the Onondaga County Medical Society declared that John A. Hoepner, MD has rendered distinguished service to the Onondaga County Medical Society, area physicians and hospitals, patients and the general public. In his roles as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Upstate Medical University, Director of the University's Center for Vision Care, Chief of the Department of Ophthalmology at Crouse Hospital, Consultant for the Medical Advisory Committee of the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, Consultant for Welch-Allyn, Inc., Member of the Boards of Directors of the Lighthouse/Aurora, Veterans Administration Medical Center Chief of Staff Search Committee, Member of the Task Force on Eye Care Delivery Systems and the Ethics Committee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Member of the Executive Committee of Upstate Medical University's College of Medicine, Author, Lecture Presenter, and Officer of the Onondaga County Medical Society, he has brought great honor to himself and the profession of medicine. The Onondaga County Medical Society, in recognition of the outstanding leadership talents and highest professional and personal standards of Dr. John A. Hoepner, as physician, teacher, and researcher, confers its Distinguished Service Award as a mark of the esteem in which he is held by the members of this Society. Signed: Gregory A. Threatte, MD President OCMS.

Fall Faculty Convocation

Dr. Robert Barlow and Dr. Michael Zuber from the Department of Ophthalmology received awards during the Fall Faculty Convocation on September 19, 2007. Dr. Barlow received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Schoarlship and Creative Activities. Dr. Zuber received the President's Award for Excellence and Leadership in Basic Research by a Young Investigator. Both awards were presented to the recipients by President David Smith. The Department extends its congratulations to both award winners.

Dr. Smith and Dr. BarlowDr. Smith and Dr. Zuber
Left: Dr. David Smith with Dr. Robert Barlow Right: Dr. David Smith with Dr. Michael Zuber

Robert B. Barlow Twelfth Distinguished Lecture in Vision


Claude Desplan, PhD
New York University
Director, Center for Developmental Genetics
Processing of Color Information in Drosophila

Lecture held: October 19, 2012

Robert B. Barlow Eleventh Distinguished Lecture in Vision


Samuel Miao-Sin Wu, PhD
Cullen Eye Institute
Baylor College of Medicine

Rod and Cone Signaling Pathways in Normal, Mutant and Diseased Retinas

Lecture held: October 17, 2011

Robert B. Barlow Tenth Distinguished Lecture in Vision


Gregory S. Hageman, PhD
The University of Utah School of Medicine
John A. Moran Eye Center
Director, John A. Moran Center for Translational Research
John A. Moran Presidential Professor of Ophthalmology

A New Era in Our Understanding of Age-related Macular Degeneration

Lecture held: October 7, 2010

Ninth Distinguished Lecture in Vision


Robert S. Molday, PhD
The University of British Columbia
Canada Research Chair in Vision and Macular Degeneration
Fellow, Royal Society of Canada
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Director, Centre for Macular Research

Pathogenic Mechanisms and Gene Therapy for Inherited Retinal Degenerative Diseases

Lecture held: March 8, 2008


Eighth Distinguished Lecture in Vision


Constance L. Cepko, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Department of Genetics and
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Determination of Retinal Cell Fates

Lecture held: October 19, 2007

Seventh Distinguished Lecture in Vision

Thaddeus P. Dryja, MD
Director, Cogan Eye Pathology Laboratory
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Hereditary Photoreceptor Diseases

Lecture held: Friday, March 10, 2006

Sixth Distinguished Lecture in Vision

David H. Hubel, MD, PhD
1981 Winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology
Research Professor of Neurobiology
Harvard University

Vision and Brain: Possible Physiological Basis for Some Common Illusions

Lecture held: Friday, April 1, 2005

Fifth Distinguished Lecture in Vision

Night Blindness and the State of Rod Photo Receptors in Retinitis Pigmentosa

Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD

Director of the National Eye Institute
Bethesda, Maryland
Lecture held: Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Fourth Distinguished Lecture in Vision

From Mouse to Man: Characterization and Regulation of Genes Causing Retinal Degeneration

Debora B. Farber, PhD, DPhhc

Professor of Ophthalmology
Associate Director of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, and Co-Chief of the Vision Science Division
Lecture held: Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Third Distinguished Lecture in Vision

Molecular Biology of Visual Pigments

Jeremy H. Nathans, MD, PhD

Professor of Molecular Biology & Genetics
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Lecture held: Monday, March 26, 2001

Second Distinguished Lecture in Vision

Searching for Visual System Mutations in Zebrafish

John E. Dowling, PhD

Harvard College Professor and
Maria Moors Cabot Professor of Natural Science
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Harvard University
Lecture held: Friday, March 3, 2000

First Distinguished Lecture in Vision

1981 Nobel Laureate, Torsten N. Wiesel, MD, FRS visited Syracuse on March 4, 1999. Dr. Wiesel is President Emeritus and Director of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior at Rockefeller University. He is also an Advisory Board Member for the University Center for Vision Research.

Robert B. Barlow, PhD, of University Center for Vision Research hosted Dr. Wiesel's lecture entitled, "Brain Mechanisms of Vision." Dr. Barlow described Dr. Wiesel as a "hero" and "a most outstanding role model for young scientists."

After his lecture, which was standing room only in the Alumni Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall, Dr. Wiesel was guest of honor at an exclusive lunch. Exceptional neuroscience graduate students, and program candidates lucky enough to be touring the S.U.N.Y. Upstate Medical University's campus that day, were invited to attend. The group enjoyed this unique opportunity to talk openly with a renowned researcher. One student said of Dr. Wiesel, "Not only is he a great scientist, he's such a nice person."

Dr. Wiesel rounded out his visit with an informal meeting with the vision scientists of University Center for Vision Research.

"Living Fossils"

Dr. Robert Barlow's Vision Research Featured on Discovery Channel Program

The Discovery Channel program, "Living Fossils", broadcast October 14, 1998, featured the research of Dr. Robert Barlow, of the University Center for Vision Research. Dr. Barlow's research centers on horseshoe crabs and how they "see."