Steven Schwartz, M.D., Ahmanson Professor of Ophthalmology, the Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, is a recognized expert in translational research with a successful track record including contributions to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapeutics, drug delivery systems, vitreoretinal diagnostic imaging instrumentation, novel therapeutic lasers and surgical devices including a novel microsurgical robotic system. Currently he is leading the first clinical trials of human embryonic stem cell derived RPE transplanted into patients with Age Related Macular Degeneration and Stargardt macular degeneration. His research is widely published with over 100 peer-reviewed publications including the lead article on the first in human successful stem cell therapy in the Lancet. He has received numerous awards for scientific, clinical and humanitarian contributions including the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Secretariat Award.
Aaron Nagiel, MD, PhD is a second-year vitreoretinal fellow at the Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. After graduating from Harvard College, he received MD and PhD degrees at Cornell University and The Rockefeller University in New York City. He completed ophthalmology residency training at Stein and is a recipient of the Heed Ophthalmic Foundation Fellowship and the Ronald G. Michels Foundation Fellowship. He has contributed to several publications on retinal imaging and cell-based therapies for retinal disease.
Robert Lanza, M.D. is currently Head of Astellas Global Regenerative Medicine, and is Chief Scientific Officer of the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He has several hundred publications and inventions, and over 30 scientific books: among them, “Essentials of Stem Cell Biology” and “Principles of Tissue Engineering” which are recognized as the definitive references in the field. He is a former Fulbright Scholar, and studied as a student with polio-pioneer Jonas Salk and Nobel laureates Gerald Edelman and Rodney Porter. He also worked closely (and co-authored a series of papers) with noted Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner and heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard. Dr. Lanza received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a University Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar. In 2014, Time magazine recognized him as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and in 2015, Prospect magazine named him one of the Top 50 “World Thinkers.”