We seek renewed partial funding for the next three meetings (2018, 2020, and 2022) of the conference Retinal Neurobiology and Visual Processing, administered by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). This unique forum attracts top retinal scientists with diverse backgrounds in systems and cellular neurobiology, computational and developmental biology, and vision research. We showcase the latest conceptual insights and technical advances in the field. Our 180 participants span all professional levels. Interaction is extensive throughout and offers stimulating debate, sound guidance, and fertile ground for collaboration. The 2018 conference (at St. Bonaventure University, NY) is the 14th meeting of this highly valued biennial conference. The provisional program provides a balanced survey of groundbreaking new research into topics of deep interest to the early-vision community. Major topics include: 1) ganglion cell structure and function; 2) retinal direction selectivity; 3) translational retinal neurobiology; 4) retinal bipolar and amacrine cells; 5) retinal synapses; 6) intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells; 7) retinal development; and 8) visual processing beyond the retina. In addition, two interactive workshops are planned, one on new advances in imaging for retinal research and another on career development for early investigators. Two special sessions feature exciting and timely work selected from submitted poster abstracts from junior colleagues, particularly graduate students. These highly popular ?Data Blitz? sessions provide an opportunity for 24 junior colleagues to present five-minute synopses of their posters. This ensures active engagement of junior participants in the conference and stimulates attendance at poster sessions. Programming for the 2020 and 2022 meetings will be developed later, to allow organizers to feature the latest and greatest work, but the goals will remain constant: a diverse and engaging set of talks and posters; and intensive, productive informal exchanges spanning the retinal processing field. As reflected in the proposed program and documented positive feedback from younger attendees, organizers make a concerted effort to design a meeting that engages and serves our pre- and postdoctoral trainees, as well as early-stage independent investigators. We provide travel awards to help them attend, opportunities to speak or otherwise present their work, and best- poster awards to acknowledge those of particular accomplishment. We reserve many plenary talks for advanced postdocs and junior faculty to enhance their visibility and career development. Graduate students get experience in public presentation, expand their conceptual and technical horizons, and enjoy extended access to world-class faculty as they ponder their postdoctoral options.
The retina, the neural tissue that lines the back of the eye, informs the rest of the brain about the visual world. Diseases of the retina afflict a significant fraction of the national and global human population. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 3 million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from serious visual impairment, about 1 million of whom are blind. More than 1.7 million in that same age group suffer from advanced age- related macular degeneration (AMD). Diabetic retinopathy afflicts another 4 million. Still more are affected by blindness or visual impairments from childhood onward. Basic research into the function of the healthy retina and the effects of disease on visual processing is a crucial component of the research funded by the NEI in the ongoing fight to prevent blindness. Of critical importance in this endeavor is the open exchange of new techniques and research findings among the community of vision scientists. The FASEB Science Research Conference on Retinal Neurobiology and Visual Processing is the premier meeting in the field of retinal anatomy, physiology, development and visual processing. This intense, focused, multidimensional meeting attracts the best vision scientists from around the world and provides an intimate setting optimal for exchanging cutting-edge technical knowledge and fostering scientific interactions at the highest level. Held biennially for 25 years, this conference has stimulated many collaborations resulting in novel, high-impact findings. This exciting trend will continue with the proposed programs for the 2018, 2020, and 2022. Diverse areas of retinal research will be explored, with specific plenary sessions in 2018 addressing: retinal disease and regenerative repair; retinal bipolar cells; retinal development; synaptic and visual function in identified cells; intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells; direction selectivity; visual processing in multiple retinal output streams; and insights from neuroscience research in other sensory systems. Two additional sessions are devoted to informal, interactive workshops. One of these will be devoted to new innovations in imaging for retinal research; the other, targeted for students and postdocs, is a mentoring workshop led by especially successful young to mid-career scientists. The mentoring workshop is only part of our longstanding tradition of placing young scientists at the center of our meeting. We encourage their participation and support it financially, and make a concerted effort to integrate them into our scientific community. A significant number of speakers in the plenary sessions are advanced postdocs or other early-career scientists, and two ?Data Blitz? sessions give our youngest investigators a chance to pitch their projects to the community and drive traffic to their posters at an upcoming session.