Keynote speakers for RD2021

We are very happy and proud to announce that the following distinguished scientists have agreed to present their outstanding work during dedicated keynote lectures.


Michael F. Chiang, M.D.
Director of the National Eye Institute

Michael F. Chiang, M.D.

Michael F. Chiang is director of the National Eye Institute, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. His clinical practice focuses on pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, and he is board-certified in clinical informatics. His research develops and applies biomedical informatics methods to clinical ophthalmology in areas such as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), telehealth, artificial intelligence, clinical information systems, genotype-phenotype correlation, and data analytics. His group has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, and has developed an assistive artificial intelligence system for ROP that received Breakthrough Status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

He received a BS in Electrical Engineering and Biology from Stanford University in 1991, an MD from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology in 1996, and an MA in Biomedical Informatics from Columbia University. He completed residency and pediatric ophthalmology fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. Between 2001-2010, he worked at Columbia University, where he was Anne S. Cohen Associate Professor of Ophthalmology & Biomedical Informatics, director of medical student education in ophthalmology, and director of the introductory graduate student course in biomedical informatics. From 2010-2020, he was Knowles Professor of Ophthalmology & Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, and Associate Director of the Casey Eye Institute, at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Casey Eye Institute. He co-directed an NIH-funded T32 training program in visual science for graduate students and research fellows, as well as an NIH-funded K12 clinician-scientist program at OHSU.

He has served as a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Board of Trustees, Chair of the AAO IRIS Registry Data Analytics Committee, Chair of the AAO Task Force on Artificial Intelligence, Chair of the AAO Medical Information Technology Committee, and on numerous other national and local committees. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association and on the Editorial Board for Ophthalmology and the Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology, and is Associate Editor of the textbook Biomedical Informatics: Computer Applications in Health Care and Biomedicine. He has previously served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and on the Editorial Board for Ophthalmology Retina.
Val Canto-Soler, Ph.D.
Director of CellSight

Val Canto-Soler, Ph.D.

Dr. Canto-Soler is the Doni Solich Family Chair in Ocular Stem Cell Research and the Director of CellSight – the Ocular Stem Cell and Regeneration Research Program at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Throughout her training and early stages of her independent carrier, she acquired substantial expertise on the mechanisms regulating retinal progenitor cell differentiation in vivo and in vitro. This expertise has been a critical foundation for the current main area of research in her lab, which is directed to the development of stem cell-based technology for the treatment of retinal degenerative diseases. Using human induced pluripotent stem cells Dr. Canto-Soler and her research team have recently established a method to generate light-sensitive miniature human retinas in a laboratory dish. At CellSight, they are currently using this breakthrough technology to develop novel stem cell-based therapeutics to save and restore sight in patients with blinding diseases.
David M. Gamm, M.D., Ph.D.

David M. Gamm, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Gamm is the Emmett A. Humble Distinguished Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, the Sandra Lemke Trout Chair in Eye Research, and an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a member of the Waisman Center Stem Cell Research Program, the UW Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, the American Ophthalmological Society, and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and is Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Opsis Therapeutics. Dr. Gamm earned his medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and completed his residency and pediatric ophthalmology fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In his clinical practice, Dr. Gamm diagnoses and manages a wide range of pediatric eye and vision disorders; however, the majority of his effort is directed toward basic and translational retinal stem cell research. The aims of his laboratory are 1) to investigate the cellular and molecular events that occur during human retinal development and 2) to generate cells and tissues for use in disease modeling and cell replacement therapies aimed at delaying or reversing the effects of blinding disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa and age–related macular degeneration.
Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D.

Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D.

Professor Douglas Wallace, Member of the National Academy of Science since 1995, is Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Human Genetics, at the University of Pennsylvania and the founding director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Over the past 45 years Wallace has introduced mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genetics into medicine thus founding the field of Mitochondrial Genetic Medicine. In 1975, Wallace and associates showed that genetic factors could be inherited though the cytoplasm with the cytoplasmic transfer of chloramphenicol resistance. In 1980 he demonstrated that the human mtDNA is maternally inherited and in 1988 he was the first to identify an inherited human mtDNA disease, Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). Since then hundreds of mtDNA variants have been linked to disease, see MITOMAP.org. By surveying mtDNA variation in indigenous populations around the world, Wallace and his associates were able to exploit the maternal transmission of the mtDNA to reconstruct the origin and ancient migrations of women. Subsequent studies revealed that the geographic specificity of mtDNA types was the result of environmental selection and that these “adaptive” mtDNA variants can become maladaptive in new environments generating the common variants of common diseases.