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Dr. Robert B. Aramant and Dr. Magdalene J. Seiler have worked in the field of retinal transplantation since 1986 when they met at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University in North Carolina at Dr. James Turner's Laboratory. Dr. Turner had just discovered it was possible to transplant retinal cells to retina and get a viable transplant. After two years, they moved to the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School in Boston and five years later they moved to the University of Louisville, Kentucky. After 10 years as Professor and Assistant Professor, respectively, they moved their laboratory to California and are now (since 2007) at the University of California, Irvine.
Their research was recognized by the German Humboldt Foundation with the respected Humboldt Prize for their pioneering research in Retinal Transplantation.
University of Louisville Awards
In the yearly and weeklong event "Research Louisville", their lab was awarded for two consecutive years 1999 and 2000 with 4 first and 1 second price in the competition.
They also received awards for their three patents for the surgical instrument and method in Retinal Transplantation.
Grants, Collaborations, Invited Lectures
Both have being supported by many NIH grants during the years, have collaborated with many scientists in the field of retinal degeneration and have been invited to give numerous lectures abroad and in the U.S.
NIH Small Business Grants
To support their research, a company was created in 1996 "Ocular Transplantation LLC". Dr. Aramant has been Principal Investigator on several NIH Small Business grants for developing the transplantation instruments and in addition to acting as a CEO. Dr. Seiler serves as scientific advisor and vice president for research and development.
Starting in 2000, with Dr. Norman Radtke as a clinical partner, they undertook FDA-approved Clinical trials I and II. With the aim of vision improvement, complete retinal sheets with its supporting layer (RPE) were transplanted to patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa and Macular Degeneration with very hopeful results (Radtke ND, Aramant RB, Petry HM, Green PT, Pidwell DJ, Seiler MJ, 2008. Am J Ophthalmol, 146:172-182) .
The Society of Neuroscience, the world's largest source of emerging news about brain Science and health had a press release of the pioneering results in Chicago, 2009.
The successful developed retinal restoration model has since been improved by refining the instruments and adding different trophic factors.
Stem Cell Research
Dr. Seiler is working on developing human embryonic stem cells into transplantable sheets of retina. She received a grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to develop 3D retina with RPE from human embryonic stem cells for vision restoration. These experiments are still in the preclinical phase. Although we are in forefront of this research, it will likely take several years before it can be applied to patients.
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