NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Bharti To Present Sayer Vision Research Lecture

Dr. Kapil Bharti
Dr. Kapil Bharti

Dr. Kapil Bharti, NEI senior investigator and chief of the ocular and stem cell translational research section will virtually deliver the 12th Sayer Vision Research Lecture on Wednesday, May 26 at 11:30 a.m. ET. 

In his talk, “Translating Human Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) Biology into Disease Treatments using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells,” Bharti will summarize his team’s development of a therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in people age 65 and older.  

The stem cell-based therapy hinges on Bharti’s technique to produce replacement patches of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a monolayer of cells in the back of the eye that maintains the integrity of the light-sensing photoreceptors and that fails in AMD. 

Construction of a patch begins with an AMD patient’s blood cells, which are then induced into pluripotent stem cells and then RPE cells. The cells are grown on a biodegradable scaffold to form the patch. 

Once the RPE cells are functionally mature, the patch is implanted into the retina using novel surgical tools developed by Bharti’s team. In animal studies the lab-created patch rescued photoreceptors and vision.  

In late 2019, Bharti’s team secured approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a phase I/IIa clinical trial testing the safety and feasibility of the patch in AMD patients. 

The Sayer Vision Research Lecture Series features prominent scientists conducting vision-related research. 

Cohosted by NEI and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the series is supported by the Sayer Vision Research Fund, which was established by NIDDK scientist Dr. Jane M. Sayer to honor her parents, Winthrop and Laura Sayer. The fund incorporates Sayer’s desire to contribute to groundbreaking medical research at NIH while raising the profile of vision research.

Individuals who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event may email requests to by May 19.

For information about how to join the event, visit the lecture web page:

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