Wills Conference HERO

77th Annual

Wills Eye Conference

March 6-8, 2025
Philadelphia, PA

RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM FACULTY

Alexandra Benavente-Pérez, MCOptom PhD FAAO FARVO 

Associate Clinical Professor, Biological and Vision Sciences
SUNY College of Optometry

Alexandra Benavente received her degree in Optometry and Optics from the College of Science and Medicine in Valladolid, Spain; MS in Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science from the University of Manchester, UK; and PhD in Vision Science from Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

During her first years at SUNY, Dr. Benavente was a Research Associate funded through the SUNY Research Foundation and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the college. She later took the position of Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Clinical Education, followed by Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

She is the Principal Investigator of her federally and industry-funded research lab, focused on identifying the mechanisms that lead to myopia and associated blinding consequences. She has been a part of the clinical research effort at the college through the Clinical Vision Research Center from its creation in 2013, where she has been Principal Investigator in a multi-center research study and sub-Investigator in more than 20 clinical studies.

Since joining SUNY Optometry, Dr. Benavente-Pérez has published 28 peer-reviewed research papers, 2 book chapters and over 85 conference abstracts on her doctoral research, work on experimental myopia models and ongoing multidisciplinary collaborations. She has served as Chair of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting Program Committee (Anatomy section), and is an appointed member of the Scientific Committees of the American Academy of Optometry, and International Myopia Conference. She has received the Josh Wallman Memorial Award/Zeiss Young Scientist Award in Myopia Research at the International Myopia Conference, and the American Academy of Optometry Professional Career Development Award.

Jodhbir S. Mehta, BSc, MBBS, FRCOphth, FRCS(Ed), FAMS, PhD

Executive Director of the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI)
Distinguished Professor, Corneal & External Eye Disease and Refractive Department at Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC)

Dr. Mehta has won 70 prestigious awards nationally and internationally for his clinical and research work, including AAO Senior Achievement Award 2017, Coster Lecture from the Australian Corneal Society 2018, Charles Tillett Lecture (Fuchs Society, USA) 2020, Casebeer Award (ISRS, AAO) 2020, APAO Senior Achievement Award 2023, ACE Award APACRS 2023. He has been recognised as one of the most influential people in the world of ophthalmology both by featuring in the Ophthalmologist’s Power List, Asia-Pacific Power List and also the top 2% of scientist in Ophthalmology by Elsevier. Clinically, He is widely regarded internationally as one of the top surgeons for corneal diseases and refractive surgery. On expertscape.com he ranks no 1 in the world for expertise in Cornea and no 2 for Refractive Surgery for the last 4 years.

His research work has generated 18 patents, 5 of which have been commercialised and licensed to companies. He has published >520 peer-reviewed publications and 24 book chapters, with a H-index 71. He has published in NEJM, Lancet, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Review Disease Primers, as well as high impact eye journals e.g. PRER, Ophthalmology etc. He has been invited to speak at >300 international conferences and given 25 named/keynote lectures. He serves on the editorial board of several journals. His work has been sited >19,250 times.

He is committed to clinical teaching, both in the form of lectures and courses. He has given over 156 courses at various national and international meetings e.g AAO, ESCRS, APAO, APACRS, ARVO. He has trained 28 international fellows and 8 PhD students, 5 Masters students.

Prof Mehta is an active member of APAO and other Asia-Pacific professional societies. He currently is the Vice-President of International Relations of the American Corneal Society.

Lisa Ostrin, OD, PhD, FAAO, FARVO

Associate Professor, University of Houston College of Optometry

 
Dr. Ostrin received a BA in Studio Art at the University of Texas at Austin and then completed an OD/PhD at the University of Houston College of Optometry. She went to John Hopkins University for post-doctoral research in low vision and retinal prosthetics, then worked as a Clinician Researcher at the University of California Berkeley, with a focus on myopia. She returned to the University of Houston to continue her work in myopia, conducting studies in both human participants and animal models. She is interested in environmental factors and visual cues that contribute to myopia onset and progression, as well as in the development and testing of novel myopia treatments. In addition to research,

 

Dr. Ostrin teaches gross and ocular anatomy and has authored a book, Anatomy of the Human Eye: a Coloring Atlas. Dr. Ostrin is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, Gold Fellow of ARVO, and a recipient of the American Optometric Foundation Ezell Fellowship and the ARVO Oberdorfer Award.

Jeffrey Stern, PhD, MD

Director of Translational Research, Neural Stem Cell Institute
co-CEO, Luxa Biotechnology    

Dr. Stern’s retina career began with studying early steps in vision, photoreceptor cell excitation, and gap junctional conductance between photoreceptor cells. After this, he pursued clinical retina practice which provided additional valuable research direction.

In 2007, Drs. Stern and Sally Temple co-founded the Neural Stem Cell Institute where they discovered the sub-population of stem cells in the human retinal pigment epithelial (RPESC). In 2010 they organized the Retinal Stem Cell Consortium for preclinical IND-enabling work on RPESC transplantation as therapy for dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). They discovered that less differentiated RPE progenitor cells were more reparative than highly differentiated ones. His current research focus is to compare younger progenitor cells with mature fully differentiated RPE cells to identify the pathways underlying improved vision rescue. In 2013,

Dr. Stern received the Audacious Goals Prize from the National Eye Institute, and in 2015 he was named the Professional of the Year by the Northeast Association for the Blind.

Terri L. Young, MD, MBA

Peter A. Duehr Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Albert Y. Wu, MD, PhD, FACS

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
Stanford Byers Eye Institute

Dr. Wu is a board-certified ophthalmologist and a fellowship-trained specialist in oculoplastic and orbital surgery, and faculty in the Department of Ophthalmology at Stanford University. He completed his ASOPRS oculoplastics fellowship at the University of Toronto and served two years as its Chief Fellow. After finishing fellowship, Dr. Wu was faculty at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary / Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he obtained support from the National Eye Institute to develop stem cell therapies to treat corneal blindness and regenerate the surface of the eye.

He currently leads the Stanford Ophthalmic Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, which focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of ocular and orbital diseases. His research focuses on using induced pluripotent and adult stem cells to regenerate the ocular surface. He has pioneered the use of corneal organoids to create transplantable ocular tissue and to model human disease and development. Additionally, his lab has developed novel techniques to reverse the hallmarks of aging in human eye cells. Transcriptomics are used to profile normal physiology, aging, progression from early to late disease and to identify possible ocular/orbital inflammatory and cancer stem cells as targets for precision therapeutics.