Concept Title: Multi-disciplinary Elucidation of Anterior Segment Innervation

Presenter:  Houmam Araj, Ph.D.
Council Date: October 16, 2020


In order to capitalize on research opportunities at the front of the eye – the NEI has launched the Anterior Segment Initiative (ASI). As part of this Initiative, a Request for Information (RFI) was issued with the aim of seeking input from the scientific community and the public to help identify the major gaps in knowledge and the research opportunities related to the anterior segment of the eye. Areas of opportunity that were identified include the importance of addressing the clinically significant problems of ocular pain and dry eye disease (DED) especially in terms of pain and discomfort sensations as well as disruptions in the tearing reflex. There are opportunities for new research at anatomical, cellular, molecular, and functional levels. This initiative will focus on multi-disciplinary approaches to elucidate relevant anterior segment innervation pathways that contribute to normal and abnormal functioning of the neural circuits related to the ocular surface.  


Concept Title: The Ocular Microbiome

Presenter:  Lisa Neuhold, Ph.D. 
Council Date: October 16, 2020


The microbiome is defined as the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that share our body space.  Evidence has emerged that the microbiome plays an important role in human health and disease and represents an understudied diagnostic and therapeutic target in vision research.  The microbial community is known to carry out the majority of the metabolic and biochemical activity within an individual, and changes in the composition may precipitate diseases.  The first step toward understanding this interaction is to determine the phylogenetic and taxonomic composition including diversity and abundance of the microbiota that exist in a healthy eye. Next steps are to determine the metabolic pathways they elaborate and similarly, the host-physiological pathways which are modulated by factors contributed by the microbiota.  The vision community and the National Eye Institute (NEI) strategic planning process identified the microbiome as an area that needs to be further explored in order to advance the development of microbiome-based interventions for prevention and treatment of disorders of the eye.  This initiative is to develop a community-based resource of microbial communities and the factors they elaborate that are associated with the resident ocular microbiome of healthy individuals.   

Last updated: February 23, 2021