This application seeks funds to support the travel of young investigators to attend the Biennial International Symposium on Retinal Degeneration (RD meeting) in the years 2020, 2022, and 2024. The meetings are scheduled as satellite meetings of the Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER). The location and timing of the RD meetings are coordinated with the location and timing of the ISER meeting. The 2020 RD meeting has been named RD20/20 and will be held in Mendoza, Argentina on October 20th-25th, and will be the 19th successive RD meeting. The locations of meetings in 2022 and 2024 will be in Asia and the US respectively.
The Specific Aims of the RD meetings covered by this application are: 1. To enhance the emerging careers of 20 Young Investigators (with equal representation by women and the inclusion of minorities) in retinal degeneration research by providing full travel support. 2. To provide a platform to advance career development of Young Investigators. 3. To provide a forum for dissemination of the most recent advances in the state of knowledge on the pathophysiologic mechanisms of acquired, inherited, and age-related retinal degenerations, and new therapeutic approaches to these diseases. 4. To create an environment that will facilitate the exchange of novel ideas among basic and clinician scientists and generate the opportunity for vision scientists of all ethnic groups and social backgrounds to meet and establish research collaborations. The requested funds will only support the travel, accommodation, and registration fees for students, postdocs, fellows, and junior investigators who otherwise would not have the resources to attend these focused meetings. The RD meetings have a 35-year history of scientific participation by leading retinal degeneration specialists (basic scientists, clinician scientists, and more recently industry scientists), with a focus on macular degeneration and inherited retinal degenerations that affect photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium. All presentations will include fresh, unpublished date covering the latest advances in the field. Topics typically include the latest advances in genetics, mechanisms of disease, drug development, gene therapy and gene editing updates, stem cell therapies, tools to monitor disease progression, and reports on clinical trials. These meetings provide and ideal environment for trainees and young faculty to establish or accelerate their careers in the field by providing exposure to leaders in the field, providing a forum for new avenues for discovery, opportunities to develop collaborations, and will serve to encourage investigators to translate new findings into novel therapies.

Public Health Relevance

This meeting brings together the leading researchers, clinician-scientists, and ophthalmologists from around the world to discuss their research in a relaxed and collegial atmosphere. The young investigators will have an opportunity afforded by no other scientific meeting of its type to meet and interact with these outstanding scientists. There is ample evidence that this conference has had profound effects on the scientific careers of many of the young scientists who attended.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Conference (R13)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZEY1)
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Araj, Houmam H
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University of Florida
Schools of Medicine
United States
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