Bernhard Sabel Speaks on Treating Blindness Using Brain Plasticity

Global Health Vision Lecture Series
Sponsored by
National Eye Institute, Fogarty International Center, and NIH Global Health Interest Group

On Friday, January 25, the Global Health Vision Lecture Series will feature Dr. Bernhard Sabel, director of the Institute of Medical Psychology at the Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg in Magdeburg, Germany. The title of his presentation will be “Vision Loss as a Global Challenge: Treating Blindness Using Brain Plasticity.” The lecture will be held at 11:00 a.m. in the Stone House Building on the NIH campus.

In his lecture, Dr. Sabel will discuss how vision loss following retinal and brain damage can be reversed when residual visual capacities are activated through enhanced brain plasticity. He will cite findings from animal experiments and clinical studies in which vision restoration can be induced by new methods of plasticity enhancers, namely vision training and non-invasive alternating current stimulation. The fundamental conclusion of his work is that partial blindness need not be permanent and there are opportunities for vision improvement even many years after the nervous system has been damaged. This new paradigm of activating residual vision is relevant for different diseases of the visual system, such as glaucoma, optic nerve damage and traumatic or stroke-related vision loss.

Dr. Sabel holds a Ph.D. in psychobiology and neuroscience from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, and has held research scientist positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, University of Munich, Princeton University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing. His areas of interest are vision restoration, plasticity, and recovery from retina and brain damage, and nanobiotechnology. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.


The Global Health Vision Lecture Series is sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the NIH Global Health Interest Group. The Fogarty International Center is also a sponsor of this and other previous and planned lectures. The series was created by the NEI Office of International Programs in 2012 to foster the global collaboration and exchange of information among international vision researchers and eye health clinical scientists. Lessons learned from global health programs around the world and their applications to healthcare research in the United States are a focus of discussion in these lectures.

For information contact Linda Huss at or 301-496-5248.

Last Reviewed: 
January 2013