Department of Ophthalmology | Visiting Professor Lecture Series

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We are pleased to announce the 2016-2017 Boston Children’s Hospital Visiting Professor Series in Pediatric Ophthalmology. The Department of Ophthalmology includes 15 full-time clinical pediatric ophthalmologists, 6 pediatric optometrists, 3 MEEI faculty affiliates and 9 independent, NIH-funded visual systems researchers with expertise in the development of the visual system, photoreceptors, amblyopia, and the retinal vasculature. This year, our Selection Committee has chosen five experts from around the world who are doing leading-edge work in their field.

The Children’s Hospital Ophthalmology Foundation sponsors this series for the benefit of clinicians and researchers in the field of pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus. The goal is to raise awareness of the work of our visiting speakers and to facilitate productive interactions between the visitors and those who attend. We hope that you will consider joining us for one or all of these events.


David G. Hunter, MD, PhD
Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Boston Children's Hospital
Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

Peter-sterlingPeter Sterling, PhD (September 21, 2016)

Dr. Peter Sterling earned his PhD in 1966 at the Western Reserve University Department of Biology.  He completed postdoctoral fellowships in both Neurophysiology and Anatomy at Harvard Medical School and is currently Professor of Neuroscience at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The broad goal of his career has been to learn how the brain is designed and understand its functional architecture. His research has spanned the full range of scales, from nanoscopic (synaptic vesicles), to microscopic (neural circuits), to macroscopic (regional neuroanatomy and behavior). Dr. Sterling developed a technique in which serial EM could be used to trace neuronal connections and used it to perform seminal reconstructions of retinal circuitry.  While his laboratory work focused on retinal structure and function, his theoretical interests extended to basic issues of physiological regulation and behavior, leading to the concept of allostasis. The two lines are now integrated in a book written with Prof. Simon Laughlin, Principles of Neural Design (2015), which recently received the American Publishers Award Biomedicine & Neuroscience and the Prose Award for Excellence in Biological & Life Sciences.

Krzysztof-PalczewskiGrazyna-PalczewskaKrzysztof Palczewski, PhD and Grazyna Palczewska, M.Sc. M.E. (November 2, 2016) 

Krzysztof Palczewski completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Wroclaw (Poland).  He studied chemistry specializing in organic chemistry and received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1986 from the Technical University of Wroclaw.   Upon completing his Ph.D., Dr. Palczewski immediately began a four-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Florida.  Dr. Palczewski spent 13 years at the University of Washington in Seattle serving in various leadership roles in the Department of Ophthalmology as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Professor in the Department of Chemistry. Dr. Palczewski was named John H. Hord Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland on September 1, 2005.   Dr. Palczewski and his lab team have made several key scientific discoveries toward the understanding of phototransduction, the visual cycle, and the etiology of human blinding retinopathies. One of the greatest contributions of the Palczewski laboratory is the large number of prospective scientists trained. These include a total more than 100 trainees at different levels (undergraduates, Ph.D., MD.-Ph.D., post-doctoral fellows, research associates, and instructors). Dr. Palczewski has also served on a variety of national scientific advisory committees and the editorial boards of several well-known scientific journals. 

Grazyna Palczewska earned her M.Sc. in Solid State Electronics in 1982 at the Technical University of Wroclaw (Poland), and her M.E in Chemical Engineering in 1989 from the University of Floida. She currently serves as Director of Medical Device Development at Polgenix, Inc., a biotech company which aims to solve structures of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) for drug discovery purposes using a unique protein expression system. Her work focuses on developing two photon microscopy techniques to provide unprecedented images of the structures of the retina, in particular key elements in the visual cycle. Two-photon imaging creates opportunities not only to study the structures and integrity of the retina and RPE, but also to detect early changes in the efficiency of biochemical pathways fundamental to normal vision. This modality can be applied to detect early molecular changes that trigger light- and age-induced retinal defects. Thus light-induced damage can be observed not only in the RPE but also in photoreceptor cells. This observation enables detailed studies of the fundamental steps in retinal degeneration and consequently the development of novel therapeutic strategies and screening drug candidates aimed at saving vision in disparate diseases. 

cynthia-tothCynthia Toth, MD (April 19, 2017)

Cynthia A. Toth, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, is a clinician-scientist and vitreoretinal surgeon. After vitreoretinal fellowship at The University of California at Davis, she served in the US Air Force as the Chief of the Retina Service at Wilford Hall USAF Medical  Center 1991-93 and performed pioneering optical coherence tomography (OCT) research. Dr. Toth joined the Duke Faculty in 1993 and transitioned the Biophysics Laboratory into the Duke Advanced Research in Spectral Domain OCT Imaging Laboratory. She also co-founded and is the Director of OCT Grading for the Duke Reading Center and is Chairman of The Robert Machemer Foundation, established to support research training for international ophthalmologists within the U.S. She has developed surgical techniques and instrumentation for macular translocation and other vitreoretinal surgery and treats adults, children and infants with complex vitreoretinal disorders. Her research includes designing novel methods of OCT imaging and analysis for age-related macular degeneration, vitreomacular diseases and in pediatric retinal diseases. She has extended OCT applications outside of conventional clinical settings such as in the neonatal nursery and during vitreoretinal surgery. She has numerous patents for optical and image analysis methods and for microsurgical technology in commercial use worldwide.

daphne-bavelierDaphne Bavelier (June 14, 2017) 

Daphne Bavelier is an internationally-recognized expert on how humans learn. In particular, she studies how the brain adapts to changes in experience, either by nature - for example, deafness - or by training - for example, playing video games.  Initially trained in Biology at the 'Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris', she then received a PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT and trained in human brain plasticity at the Salk Institute.  Her work shows that playing fast-paced, action-packed entertainment video games typically thought to be mind-numbing actually benefits several aspects of behavior.  Exploiting this counter-intuitive finding, her lab now investigates how new media, such as video games, can be leveraged to foster learning and brain plasticity.  Daphne now directs a Cognitive Neuroscience research team at the University of Geneva, Switzerland and at the University of Rochester, NY, USA. Her expertise is also sought outside of academia. She is a co-founding scientific advisor of Akili Interactive, a company which develops clinically-validated cognitive therapeutics that exploit video games, and a steering committee member on the World Economic Forum's global agenda project “New Vision for Education: Unlocking the potential of technology”.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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