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Audacious Goals Initiative

Goal: Restore vision through regeneration of the retina

The Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI) for Regenerative Medicine is an effort by the National Eye Institute (NEI) to push the boundaries of vision science and restore vision through regeneration of the retina. By facilitating cross-disciplinary research, we are tackling the most devastating and difficult-to-treat eye diseases.

Our audacious goal is to replace cells of the retina that have been damaged by disease or injury and to restore their connections to the visual centers of the brain. Through strategic research funding, NEI is enlisting dynamic scientists and teams who are developing the necessary knowledge and technology to make this goal a reality. 

AGI research specifically targets the photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells. Photoreceptors — often called rods and cones — are cells in the retina that, when stimulated by light, generate signals the brain perceives as images. The retinal ganglion cells carry these signals from the photoreceptors to the brain.

Imaging tools, cell regeneration, and disease models

The AGI is catalyzing research that will enable the restoration of vision through regeneration of the retina.

  • Several research groups are developing new imaging tools to see the eye and optic nerve in unprecedented detail. The researchers will use these tools to examine individual nerve cells. 
  • Six projects aim to identify biological factors that affect neural regeneration in the retina.
  • Five multi-disciplinary teams are developing new disease models for a range of eye conditions. Scientists can then use these disease models to develop new treatments. 

AGI history, planning, and guidance

The AGI began in 2013 with a prize competition that challenged participants to imagine the greatest achievement for vision research during the next 10-15 years. After reviewing more than 450 innovative proposals from around the world, NEI chose to pursue the goal of restoring vision through the regeneration of neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system.

  • The AGI Steering Committee plots the scientific trajectory of the AGI, identifying knowledge gaps and the scientific expertise needed to bridge them.   
  • The National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC) provides administrative guidance, advising the NEI director on AGI funding plans and providing a second level of review for research funding proposals. 
  • The AGI Working Group helps draft funding announcements, monitors the progress of research programs, and makes recommendations to the AGI Steering Committee, the NAEC, and the NEI Director.

AGI Resources

Last updated: March 25, 2021