Skip to Content

Leah Byrne, PhD, Named Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors

March 15, 2024

Leah Byrne, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has been named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

The NAI is a member organization of universities, government agencies, and nonprofit research institutes from around the world that aims to recognize, encourage, and celebrate inventors and raise awareness about how new inventions benefit society. NAI Senior Members are faculty, scientists, and administrators whose inventions impact or aim to impact our communities; they must also demonstrate success in patents, licensing, and commercialization and educate and mentor others. 

In addition to her academic appointment in the Department of Ophthalmology, Dr. Byrne holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Neurobiology and Bioengineering. Her work at the UPMC Vision Institute and University of Pittsburgh centers on viral vector-mediated gene delivery and genome editing for retinal diseases. Dr. Byrne has engineered next-generation adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for gene therapy in the retina and created therapies for inherited retinal diseases that affect photoreceptors and cause vision loss.

Dr. Byrne received her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and was a J. William Fulbright Fellow at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden before completing her PhD in neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. She is co-founder and chief scientific officer of Avista Therapeutics, which aims to develop innovative therapies for retinal diseases. Avista is currently partnering with Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche AG to further develop AAV gene therapies.