Shaping The Future

  13 October 2016
Front Row: Shahzad Mian, M.D., Paul Lee, M.D., J.D, Denise John, M.D. Second Row: Alan Sugar, M.D., Thomas Gardner, M.D., M.S., Michael Smith-Wheelcok, M.D., Raymond Douglas, M.D., Ph.D. Front Row: Shahzad Mian, M.D., Paul Lee, M.D., J.D, Denise John, M.D. Second Row: Alan Sugar, M.D., Thomas Gardner, M.D., M.S., Michael Smith-Wheelcok, M.D., Raymond Douglas, M.D., Ph.D.




Dear Friends,

We live in amazing times. Collaboration with leading scientists at Michigan and around the world—combined with breathtaking new technology and discoveries—is creating hope for many who never expected the possibility of a treatment or cure for their vision loss during their lifetimes. Our Kellogg faculty and staff are using their expertise, dedication, and teamwork to move these methods of treatment forward so that they can improve the lives of our patients.

In this report, you will read about plans to launch a gene therapy trial in London and Ann Arbor for patients with a retinal disease affecting children that eventually causes blindness in young adults. Our researchers are also collaborating with the co-founders of the Neural Stem Cell Institute in Rensselaer, New York, to build on recent discoveries in stem cell therapy for neural and retinal disease. Clinical trials are a little farther off, but we see great promise in the use of stem cells—perhaps by using newly discovered dormant cells that reside in the retina—to regenerate damaged cells that cause vision loss.

A team of Kellogg surgeons, clinicians, and staff had the privilege of performing the first four implants in the United States of the Argus II retinal prosthesis, or “bionic eye,” in patients blinded from retinitis pigmentosa, resulting in the partial restoration of their visual function. As two of our patients featured in this report observed, successful use of the bionic eye requires extensive preparation and training with a team of specialists. These surgeries could not have happened without the effort of our Retinal Dystrophy team, coupled with the hard work and perseverance of our patients and their families.

At Kellogg, collaboration between clinical and research faculty plays an important role in the development of our approaches to treating grave and complex diseases such as ocular cancer. Together, researchers at Michigan and other institutions are investigating personalized treatment for eye cancer, the role of stem cells in ocular melanomas, and the use of thermal energy to destroy cancer cells. Our new Ocular Oncology Tumor Board brings specialists from multiple disciplines together to provide the most informed care for our patients.

When we work with partners from other leading institutions to make the best use of technological advances, our patients and their families benefit. An exciting collaborative initiative involves our faculty working with experts from Duke University, Oregon’s Casey Eye Institute, and Beaumont Hospital. Building on our experience with telemedicine, and with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we have the opportunity to ensure that premature babies at risk of developing visual loss are appropriately evaluated.

A renewed collaboration with the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering is enabling our faculty to design tools specific to their surgical, training, and patient care needs. An intelligent eye simulator for surgery, a smart walking cane, and surgical tools for children’s eye surgery are just a few of the prototypes in development, thanks to the joint efforts with our engineering partners. We also report on the success of several innovations developed previously that have now been patented.

Advances in ophthalmology can be hastened and shared by working with experts from around our interconnected world. We have invited pioneers in the field to be “Scholars in Residence” for our Center for International Ophthalmology. Our faculty also teach and consult with colleagues in other countries.

As part of a larger Ethiopia-focused initiative at Michigan, two of our faculty are discussing with the Ethiopian government and ophthalmologists there how best to shape future residency education. Our goal is to pursue projects that build meaningful, enduring relationships that benefit patients wherever they live.

Teamwork and innovation are critical in our endeavors and successes. With all of the promising advances in vision care and vision research, we at Kellogg and throughout the ophthalmology profession are in an enviable position. Working together with our many friends and colleagues, all of us have the opportunity to shape the future of eye care and vision science.

Paul P. Lee, M.D., J.D.
F. Bruce Fralick Professor and
Chair, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Director, W.K. Kellogg Eye Center

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