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 obtained an NIH grant in 1991. Five years later they moved to the University of Louisville as Associate and Assistant Professors.
Their research was recognized by the German Humboldt Foundation by the respected Humboldt Prize. In 1998, they published the first paper showing that is was possible to restore a damaged retina with an immature retinal sheet transplant using a later patented instrument and procedure. In 1999 and 2000, their lab was awarded four first and one second price at the University of Louisville yearly competition. They also received awards for their three patents. In 2001, Dr. Aramant was promoted to Professor. In 2002, their laboratory moved to Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California and end of 2006 to the University of California, Irvine.
From 1998 to 2006 based on their research, they undertook an FDA-approved clinical trial with Dr. Norman Radtke as a clinical partner. Retinal sheets together with its RPE were transplanted to patients with Retinitis pigmentosa and Macular Degeneration (see section Clinical Trials).
They have been invited to give numerous lectures in US and abroad and have collaborated with many scientists during the years in the field of retinal degeneration. They have together authored 56 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 20 book chapters and have been reviewers on several leading eye research journals.
In addition to continue improving the successful developed retinal restoration model, Dr. Seiler has been working with Dr. Hans Keirstead (UC Irvine until 2014) on the project to develop human embryonic stem cells into transplantable sheets of immature retina. She recently received a 3-year grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to develop 3D retina with RPE from human embryonic stem cells for vision restoration. Dr. Aramant was Principal Investigator on several Small Business grants from NIH for developing the transplantation instruments.