Dr. Jeffrey Stern, M.D., Ph.D., a practicing physician and a researcher at the Neural Stem Cell Institute in Rensselaer, NY, received one of only ten prizes under the National Eye Institutes' Audacious Goals challenge. The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, established the Audacious Goals challenge as part of a strategic planning exercise to envision what the Institute should aim to accomplish in the next 10 to 12 years. Applicants were invited to submit ideas, limited to a single page, in support of NEI's mission aimed at reducing the burden of vision disorders. One of nearly 500 submissions, Dr. Stern's idea is to reawaken resident, endogenous stem cells in the retina. Dr. Stern and his long-time collaborator, Dr. Sally Temple, co-founders of the Neural Stem Cell Institute, recently discovered a new type of stem cell in the retina pigment epithelium. These stem cells are active in other organisms, such as amphibians, and serve to repair damage, but in humans the stem cells are dormant.
Drs. Stern and Temple were part of a team of researchers whose NYSTEM award helped identify this new type of stem cell in human eyes (contract #C024399).
Read NEI's press release here.