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  • Riccardo Natoli

Retinal Research in the Land of Potatoes: Travels to Retinal Degeneration XVIII and XXIII Biennial M


In September 2018, I had the privilege of travelling to Ireland to attend the XVIII International Symposium on Retinal Degeneration (RD), followed by the XXIII Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER). The RD meeting was held in Southern Ireland at the Great Southern Hotel in the beautiful town of Killarney. This meeting provided a rare opportunity to closely network with nearly 300 leading researchers in the field of retinal degeneration from across the globe. I really enjoyed three full days of great talks and posters, networking sessions and an extra excursion day with fellow investigators around the Ring of Kerry, a local scenic adventure that allowed us to experience the best of Ireland.

Following a magnificent week in the south, I travelled north to Belfast (Northern Ireland, UK) for the ISER meeting. Contrary to the typical grey Irish weather, it was a beautiful sunny day at the Belfast Waterfront conference venue. I was invited to speak first up in the morning at the “IL-1B in the AMD eye: Effects and treatment strategies” session, alongside a range of international speakers in this field. I presented a talk entitled “Microglia-derived IL-1B contributes to the progression of retinal degenerations”. It was a great opportunity to improve my presentation skills and receive valuable feedback from leaders in the field.

During the day, I met with fellow ISER Young Investigators, including Daisy Y. Shu from the University of Sydney, members of the Carver laboratory from the ANU Chemistry Department, and Clear Vision Research Laboratory alumna Helen Jiao, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Melbourne. I also had the opportunity to meet with several leaders in the fields of inflammasome, cytokine and complement research in retinal degenerations, as well as our collaborator Dr Felicity de Cogan (University of Birmingham, https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/microbiology-infection/decogan-felicity.aspx) working on topical drug delivery systems for retinal diseases, involving the use of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) for ocular drug delivery (https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2627719).

Other highlights of the trip included a visit to the beautiful Trinity College Dublin campus, where I was able to meet our Irish collaborators Dr Sarah Doyle (https://www.tcd.ie/medicine/research/researchers/sarah-doyle.php) and Dr Matthew Campbell (https://www.tcd.ie/Genetics/research/campbell.php). Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed and was inspired by my trip to Ireland and I can’t wait to attend the next RD and ISER meetings in Argentina, 2020.


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