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VUMC’s Penn named president-elect of eye research society

Feb. 12, 2015, 9:03 AM

John Penn, Ph.D., Phyllis G and William B. Snyder Endowed Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, has been named president-elect of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER).

John Penn, Ph.D.

The four-year term will begin in January 2016.

“I am humbled and honored to be elected president of the ISER,” said Penn, associate dean of Faculty Affairs in the School of Medicine.

“I am eager to address the challenges currently faced by the society. This is a time when the pace of discovery and advancement in vision research is yielding very real and highly beneficial solutions to blinding diseases. I intend to work hard to ensure the ISER continues to be a primary force and custodian of progress and discovery for the benefit of the many people afflicted with eye disease.”

Penn’s research into the causes of retinal vascular inflammation and angiogenesis and their roles in eye disease, including pro-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic molecular signaling in the retina with an emphasis on targeted therapies and novel mechanisms of drug delivery to the eye, has gained him international recognition.

Early in his career, Penn developed an animal model for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) that continues to be used worldwide for investigations into the pathogenesis of ROP and other neovascular retinal diseases.

Most recently his team focused on the early stages of diabetic retinopathy and uncovered molecular biomarkers that show great potential for directing targeted and early therapeutic intervention.

“Dr. Penn is a world-recognized vision researcher and his recognition as leader of this premier international organization is well deserved,” said Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., George Weeks Hale Professor and chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Eye Institute.

Penn currently chairs or serves on advisory boards of three foundations dedicated to eye disease and is a consultant to drug companies developing therapeutic compounds for diseases of the retina.

Founded in 1968, ISER is dedicated to advancing eye research and the prevention and cure of vision-threatening diseases.

Its membership includes laboratory, translational and clinical researchers from 47 countries.

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