Ryan Initiative Update

SriniVas Sadda, MD

Director, Artificial Intelligence
Professor of Ophthalmology, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

Ryan Initiative Update: Ten Years of Collaborative Breakthroughs

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Many of us recently came together for several days of study and conversation as part of the 10th Anniversary conference of the Stephen J. Ryan Initiative for Macular Research.

The occasion gives me an opportunity to reflect on the many and varied accomplishments and advances realized as a result of this exceptional Doheny Initiative, which honors our late leader, Dr. Stephen J. Ryan.

Throughout his career, and in shaping the Doheny Eye Institute, Dr. Ryan took a global view of our work as ophthalmologists. He had an almost prescient appreciation of the connections available and necessary to accelerate research in vision science. Today, the world is powerfully connected by technology; and Doheny is at the forefront of leveraging that technology because we have decades of lead-time invested in making and sustaining personal connections. That was a quality Dr. Ryan cared about and exemplified. It is gratifying to experience the many ways his international orientation pays off in our work today – in research, image reading and patient care.

Our work to understand and cure macular degeneration is complex, in part because of the push to preserve vision, even while the rest of the body ages. As a uniquely interdisciplinary effort to bring together scientists from a range of disciplines, the Ryan Initiative has led to numerous collaborations and significant breakthroughs. Involving accomplished scientists who are non-vision experts to consider the challenges we face is an effective strategy to gain new insights and make progress that we might never have achieved working in isolation.

We are also very pleased that through this initiative a natural history study will be launched that will eventually follow 500 patients to trace their progression with AMD. The first patient is now enrolled, and we anticipate this research will bring us findings that will fill in key knowledge gaps and allow us to create more tools and innovative approaches to treatment. Along with our colleagues from Stein Eye Institute, we are pushing this research ahead with the gift of significant resources from industry partners. This work is our Doheny legacy, thanks to Dr. Ryan. We are uniquely situated to contribute to defining the cutting edge in vision science research. We do it to ensure that eyesight is enjoyed by everyone throughout their lives.

IntRIS Engages International Cohort

It is exciting to share the news that our nascent International Retinal Imaging Society, (IntRIS), now almost one year old, has already received applications from over 100 doctors wishing to contribute to this research and educational stream. We created and will convene this group with the specific mission of surveying the newest technological innovations in retinal imaging, including spectral domain and swept source OCT, OCT angiography, autofluorescence, adaptive optics and wide field angiography. The society will also devote resources to the study and incorporation of emerging imaging technology. Our goals will be defined by a diverse membership, as together we seek to evaluate the newest applications to guide optimal diagnosis and management of disease. I’m grateful to my colleagues around the globe who have expressed interest in joining this important endeavor.

In the news

If you haven’t already seen it, I hope you will read this front-page story in The New York Times Sunday paper illuminating the challenges, and some simple solutions, available to fight low vision and blindness around the world. For many who enjoy healthcare in developed nations, it might be hard to believe that for just $1.50 per individual, more than a billion people in poor countries could be rescued from blindness; but that is the fact.

Those of us engaged in supporting solutions are acutely aware of the issues. This story does a great job of illustrating the reality that poor vision and blindness not only rob individuals of their freedom, but also often impose a significant burden on families’ finances, and ultimately on the broader economy, in terms of lost productivity. I hope you can take a few minutes to read, and share this story.


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