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José-Alain Sahel, MD, Named to French Presidential Council for Science

December 8, 2023

José-Alain Sahel, MD, distinguished professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the UPMC Vision Institute, has been appointed to the newly created French Presidential Council for Science.

President Emmanuel Macron announced the establishment of the 12-member council at a meeting of more than 300 scientists, researchers, and start-ups in Paris on December 7. The council includes researchers from various scientific disciplines and will provide insights to the French president on a range of scientific matters.

As one of the world’s top experts in retinal diseases and vision restoration research, Dr. Sahel has developed several interventions — including stem cell implantation, gene therapy, innovative pharmacologic approaches, optogenetics, and the artificial retina — for retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, vascular eye disease and other vision impairments that currently are untreatable. Over the past decade, he has led pioneering efforts in optogenetic vision restoration, a technique in which cells in the retina are genetically modified to express light sensitive proteins. This therapeutic technique has the potential to help patients who are blind or visually impaired because of a genetic defect.