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Anterior Segment Initiative

About the Initiative

The Anterior Segment Initiative (ASI), launched in 2019, aims to understand conditions of the eye's anterior (forward) segment, which includes the cornea, iris, ciliary body and lens. 

Based on input from the research community, as well as several subsequent workshops and events, the initiative currently encompasses two major components: Understanding the neural circuitry of the anterior segment and its role in ocular pain and dry eye disease, and exploring the eye’s microbiome. ASI is supporting large, multidisciplinary teams taking novel approaches to studying these complex topics. The first of these consortia, devoted to neural circuitry and ocular pain, launched in October 2022.

Cross-section schematic showing eye structures.

ASI Components

Neural circuitry and ocular pain

The cornea is one of the most densely innervated parts of the body. Nerves in the anterior segment regulate many aspects of ocular function, including the blink reflex, tear production, tissue regeneration. Ocular pain due to dysfunction of these nerves can have a highly negative impact on quality of life.  ASI is exploring the regulation and regeneration of ocular nerves and the interplay between ocular nerves and ocular immunity. 


The Human Microbiome Project is revealing that the body’s commensal microbial community is a key player in health and disease. The ASI is characterizing the microbiome on the ocular surface and examining how microbes residing in other parts of the body affect the eye.

Last updated: October 13, 2022