Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Eye Institute National Institutes of Health
Dr. Sieving became director of the National Eye Institute, NIH, in 2001. He came from the University of Michigan Medical School where he was the Paul R. Lichter Professor of Ophthalmic Genetics and the founding director of the Center for Retinal and Macular Degeneration in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. After undergraduate work in history and physics at Valparaiso University, Dr. Sieving studied nuclear physics at Yale Graduate School in 1970-73 under D. Allan Bromley and attended Yale Law School from 1973-74. He received his M.D. from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1978 and a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Illinois Graduate College in 1981. Dr. Sieving completed an ophthalmology residency at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary in Chicago. After post-doctoral study of retinal physiology with Roy H. Steinberg in 1982-83 at the University of California, San Francisco, he did a clinical fellowship in genetic retinal degenerations with Eliot Berson in 1984-85 at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Dr. Sieving is known internationally for studies of human progressive blinding genetic retinal neurodegenerations, including retinitis pigmentosa, and rodent models of these conditions. His laboratory study of pharmacological approaches to slowing degeneration in transgenic animal models led to the first human clinical trial of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) for retinitis pigmentosa, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2006. He developed a mouse model of X-linked retinoschisis and is embarking on human ocular gene therapy for this condition. He maintains a small clinical practice at NEI for patients with these and other genetic retinal diseases, including Stargardt juvenile macular degeneration. In his role as director, Dr. Sieving began the NEI Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI), a strategic research effort that aims to regenerate neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system by the year 2025. Success will mean new approaches to prevent and even reverse vision loss in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Dr. Sieving served as vice chair for clinical research for the Foundation Fighting Blindness from 1996-2001. He is on the Bressler Vision Award committee and is a jury member for the €1 million annual Vision Award of the Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal. He was elected to membership in the American Ophthalmological Society in 1993, the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis in 2005, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006, and the German National Academy of Sciences in 2014. He received an honorary Doctor of Science from Valparaiso University in 2003 and has been named among the “Best Doctors in America” multiple years. He has received many awards, including the Research to Prevent Blindness Senior Scientific Investigator Award in 1998, the Alcon Research Institute Award in 2000, and the Pisart Vision Award from the New York Lighthouse International in 2005.