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NEI Welcomes Four New Members to National Advisory Eye Council

June 15, 2016
June 2016 NAEC members

Today four new members join the National Advisory Eye Council, an advisory body for the National Eye Institute (NEI) at NIH. The council provides advice to guide NEI research and training programs.

“NEI welcomes these new appointees; the breadth of their expertise will be invaluable,” said NEI director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. “We look forward to receiving their guidance as we continue to advance vision research, translating discoveries into treatments and therapies for patients.”The four new council members are:

Tom Glaser, M.D., Ph.D.

Tom Glaser

Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, University of California, Davis School of Medicine

Dr. Glaser’s research has led to a better understanding of the basic mechanisms of eye development. He and his team have identified mutations and regions of the genome associated with human blindness present from birth. Dr. Glaser’s most recent NEI funding supported research on retinal ganglion cell function, and the genetic basis of anophthalmia, a birth defect resulting in the absence of one or both eyes.

Dennis M. Levi, O.D., Ph.D.

Dennis Levi

Professor, Optometry and Vision Science, University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry

Research in Dr. Levi’s lab focuses on how humans perceive visual forms and patterns, and how abnormal visual experience early in life changes that perception. Funded in part by NEI (R01EY020976), Dr. Levi’s research suggests that a custom-made action video game has promise for treating adult amblyopia, a condition when the vision in one eye is limited because the eye and brain are not working together properly. Dr. Levi is also the immediate past dean at the Berkeley School of Optometry.

Louis Robert Pasquale, M.D.

Louis Pasquale

Professor, Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Dr. Pasquale is a specialist in glaucoma, a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. His NEI-funded research has included studying interactions between the genetic and environmental factors that may play a role in glaucoma. In addition, he demonstrated an association between eating green leafy vegetables and having a lower risk for primary open-angle glaucoma. Dr. Pasquale is also a participating investigator in the NEIGHBOR (NEI Glaucoma Human genetics collaBORation) consortium.

Sylvia B. Smith, Ph.D.

Sylvia Smith

Regents’ Professor and Chair, Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University and Co-Director, James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute

Research in Dr. Smith’s lab focuses on normal function in the retina, as well as what happens to retinal health when normal function goes awry. Using models of diabetic retinopathy and severe retinal degeneration, work from her lab has shown that when a unique protein, sigma 1 receptor, is activated, neuronal structures are protected. Her lab also studies the role of an amino acid, homocysteine, on retinal architecture and function. Dr. Smith started her career with an Intramural Research Training Award and then a staff fellow position at the NEI.




For the full roster of council members, meeting agendas, and other NAEC information, visit


Joe Balintfy