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. Prior to that he was on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, as the Paul R. Lichter Professor of Ophthalmic Genetics. He was the founding director of the Center for Retinal and Macular Degeneration in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
As an undergraduate student at Valparaiso University, he majored in history and physics. He then studied nuclear physics at Yale Graduate School in 1970-73 under D. Allan Bromley, and attended Yale Law School from 1973 - 1974. 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. He performed post-doctoral studies of retinal electrophysiology with Roy H. Steinberg at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1982-84. He then 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, inherited retinal and macular neurodegeneration diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt disease. He studies the conditions in transgenic animal models, and his laboratory studies pharmacological approaches to slowing degeneration in the transgenic animal models. This led to the first human clinical trial of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) as a rescue factor for retinitis pigmentosa (published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2006).
He has worked to treat a juvenile form of macular degeneration termed X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS). His lab developed a mouse model of XLRS and successfully rescued the condition by gene therapy. He is now conducting a trial of human ocular gene therapy for this condition. This clinical trial is underway and enrolling participants at the NIH Clinical Center. 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 the NEI Director, Dr. Sieving established a major program to develop treatments for eye diseases, the NEI Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI) for Regenerative Medicine. This is a strategic research effort to restore function of critical nerve cells in the eye and visual system even after they are damaged by disease. Success will mean new approaches to prevent and even reverse vision loss in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Dr. Sieving has been named among the “Best Doctors in America” for many years and was honored with the Research to Prevent Blindness Senior Scientific Investigator Award in 1998, the Alcon Research Institute Award in 2000, the Pisart Award in Vision Science from the Lighthouse Guild in 2005, and the Società Oftalmologica Italiana Honorary Award in Ophthalmology in 2016. He serves as a jury member for the António Champalimaud Vision Award of the €1 million presented yearly in Lisbon, Portugal. He is an elected member of many organizations, including the American Ophthalmological Society (1993), the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis (2005), the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences (2006), and the German National Academy of Sciences (2014).