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Vol. LXV, No. 18
August 30, 2013

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Li To Give Sayer Vision Research Lecture

Dr. Wei Li
Dr. Wei Li, chief of the retinal neurophysiology unit at the National Eye Institute, will deliver the 2013 Sayer Vision Research Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10. His talk is titled “Of Squirrels and Men: A Model for Studying Retinal Neurobiology.”

Li studies how the synaptic circuits in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye, are normally wired and how they are altered by disease. His laboratory uses the ground squirrel retina as a model system because of two unique features: photoreceptors in the ground squirrel retina consist mostly of cones in an arrangement very similar to that of the central region of the human retina and the squirrel hibernates in winter, which puts its retina through a long period of metabolically challenging conditions. Understanding how ground squirrels compensate for these conditions could provide a strategy for treating retinal disease in humans that may be influenced by metabolic stress.

The Sayer Vision Research Fund was established in 2006 at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health by Dr. Jane M. Sayer, a research scientist with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, to honor her family and the memory of her parents, Winthrop and Laura Sayer. The fund incorporates her desire to contribute to groundbreaking medical research at NIH while specifically raising the profile of vision research. In partnership with NEI, the fund supports the Sayer Vision Research Lecture Series, given by a scientist of national or international prominence. From time to time, the fund also supports an award to a promising young NIH investigator in eye research, of which Li is the first recipient.

Individuals who need sign language interpreters or reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact Mica Gordon, (301) 451-6763, gordonmi@

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