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Braille Institute to Hold Free Seminar on Future Stem Cell Therapies for Sight Loss

Braille Institute Santa Barbara will host a free seminar focusing on developments in the use of stem cells as a novel therapy for macular degeneration and other eye diseases rom 3-5 p.m. Monday, June 13, 2016.

Guest speakers Amir Kashani, M.D., Ph.D., and Dennis Clegg, Ph.D. will discuss the latest research from a collaboration between University of Southern California, UC Santa Barbara, California Institute of Technology and City of Hope. 

“We are honored to welcome our presenters, leaders in the field who are driving major advancements in the treatment of vision loss,” said Michael Lazarovits, executive director of Braille Institute Santa Barbara. “At Braille Institute, we are proud to connect the community with the resources and information that can benefit those experiencing vision loss.”

The USC Roski Eye Institute recently received a $38 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to develop a stem cell-based therapy for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Along with the Roski Eye Institute, a team of experts were assembled from four major schools and institutions including UCSB, Caltech and City of Hope to execute this interdisciplinary initiative.

Dr. Kashani is the principal investigator of the upcoming phase I clinical trial.

Guest presenters include the following:

» Dennis Clegg, Ph.D.: “Understanding Eye Disease and Related Developments in Stem Cell Therapy”

» Amir H. Kashani, M.D., Ph.D.: “Stem Cell Therapy: A Novel Treatment Approach for Severe Sight Loss Due to Age Related Macular Degeneration”

» Ken Richardson, special guest and stem cell clinical trial candidate

Each presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Because space is limited, guests are asked to reserve a space in advance. To make a reservation, visit www.brailleinstitute.org/santabarbaraor or call 1.800.BRAILLE (272.4553).

About the Presenters

Dr. Amir Kashani is an assistant professor at Keck Medicine of USC and USC Roski Eye Institute. He attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he obtained his M.D. and Ph.D.

He completed his ophthalmology residency at the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute and fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at the top-rated Associated Retinal Consultants.

He was awarded both National Honors during his training. Dr. Kashani is now a USC clinician-scientist with an active practice in both medical and surgical retinal diseases including diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusions, age-related macular degeneration and retinal detachments among other common retinal diseases.

In his research practice, Dr. Kashani is developing novel methods to treat retinal diseases. He is also a surgeon and specializes in treatment of retinal detachments, epiretinal membranes and macular holes.

Dr. Kashani is a clinical investigator for many clinical trials. He is principal investigator for a clinical trial to test a novel stem cell therapy for severe vision loss from advanced dry age-related macular degeneration. 

Dr. Dennis Clegg is a professor at UCSB and the Wilcox Family Chair in BioMedicine. He earned his B.S. degree in biochemistry at UC Davis and his Ph.D. in biochemistry at UC Berkeley.

As a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Scholar at UC San Francisco, he studied neural development and regeneration. He has continued this avenue of research since joining the UCSB faculty.

His current emphasis is in stem cell research, with a focus on developing therapies for ocular disease.

Dr. Clegg is the recipient of the UCSB Distinguished Teaching Award in the Physical Sciences, the UCSB Community Affairs Board Award and the National Eye Institute Audacious Goals award, and he served as chair of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from 2004-09. 

He has been a Frontiers of Vision Research Lecturer at the National Eye Institute, a Keynote Lecturer at the Stem Cells World Congress and a TEDx speaker.

Dr. Clegg is founder and co-director of the UCSB Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering and serves on advisory boards for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Center for Regenerative Medicine.

He is a co-principal investigator of The California Project to Cure Blindness.
Ken Richardson is an author and the former president and chief operating officer of Hughes Aircraft Company.

Richardson came to Braille Institute in 2006 after being diagnosed with macular degeneration. He benefited from resources that helped him adapt to his changing vision so he could complete his book, Hughes After Howard.

Richardson retired in 1991 from Hughes after serving 40 years in key technical and management positions. He created unique methodologies for managing effective teams performing systems engineering and program management of large complex electronic developments.

The seminar is made possible by a generous donation from the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation.

Hannah Rael is a publicist representing Braille Institute of Santa Barbara.

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