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Forschungsinstitut fuer Augenheilkunde
INSTITUTE FOR OPHTHALMIC RESEARCH
FORSCHUNGSINSTITUT FÜR AUGENHEILKUNDE

Potsdam Meeting – Unique Gathering on Retinal Degeneration

The 18th Research Colloquium held in Potsdam from April 12-14, 2024, organized by the Pro-Retina Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness, was an unparalleled event in the realm of retinal degeneration research.

English translation from an original press release by Reinhard Rubow, Pro-Retina Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness

"This event is unique. Patients, scientists, clinicians, and industry representatives gather in a relaxed atmosphere to discuss retinal degeneration. I've attended many conferences worldwide for various indications, but this format is one of a kind," expressed a pharmaceutical representative at the pre-meeting of the 18th Research Colloquium in Potsdam, held from April 12-14, 2024.

Indeed, what the Pro-Retina Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness and particularly Franz Badura, a brilliant scientific coordinator with contagious passion and expertise, together with the organizing committee (Profs. Marius Ader, Peter Charbel-Issa, Antje Grosche, Thomas Langmann), have accomplished for the 18th time this year is simply unique. Franz Badura explained: "We usually deal with rare diseases when it comes to retinal degeneration. Developing therapies for us patients requires an enormous amount of time, money, and commitment from everyone involved. We bring these various facets together here in Potsdam: young scientists, experienced top experts from around the world in ophthalmology clinics and research, patient representatives, and industry representatives."

Badura reveals a key ingredient to the success:

We do this near an international major city, Berlin, but far enough from the city center at the quiet Templiner See in the middle of the forest, so no one thinks of disappearing to the next bar in the evening. Instead, we have our popular "Swinging Poster Session" with a swing band, free drinks, and participant interactions. This year, there were 200 registered participants.

Full of new ideas and concepts from the exciting lecture sessions and presentations, participants meet to exchange, discuss, learn, dismiss, and further develop. This year, international experts conducted "advanced retinal research" in three sessions: "Know Your Gene," "Updates on RPE in Retinal Degeneration," and "Retinal Organoids in Development, Disease, and Therapy." Prof. Marius Ueffing from the Institute of Ophthalmic Research in Tübingen stated at the pre-meeting: 

"We can feel it and we can see it - the breakthrough to effective treatments for retinal dystrophies is within our very near reach. We need meetings like this. We in research can develop and show the way, but we need patients, industry and clinicians to take what we develop, test it and bring it into care."

The patient perspective was not neglected, for example, through an engaging lecture by Avril Daly from Retina International (RI) on the topic: "know your gene-the patients perspective." Not only through lectures, but also through the presence of leading representatives from RI and the US-based Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB), the meeting gained an international dimension: Avril Daly (Ireland), Jason Menzo (FFB, USA), Franz Badura (Germany), Jeremy D'Souza (Australia), Caisa Ramshage (Sweden), Manny Moodley (South Africa), David Sanchez (Spain).

To inspire and motivate young scientists to stay in the field, coveted poster prizes with awards up to 300 euros were presented. The celebration included:
Prof. Stylianos Michalakis, Prof. Karl-Wilhelm Koch, Prof. Thomas Langmann, Franz Badura, Prof. Antje Grosche, Mirian Martinez-Santos, Sebastian Fritsch, Kritika Sharma, Juliane Schikora, Prof. Diana Pauly.

The meeting was not only financially supported by the DFG but also by seven industry sponsors (Apellis, Astellas, Biogen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, Novartis, Roche). The personal presence of the representatives of these companies and the sponsorship made the message clear: we support this initiative and want effective new therapies for patients in the field of retinal dystrophies. Reinhard Rubow, responsible for fundraising at the Pro-Retina Foundation, is enthusiastic: "Many thanks – with this commitment, we can look more optimistically into the future for those affected. We hope very much that you will be part of future meetings again, thus enabling a unique forum for scientific progress in the field of retinal dystrophies."

For more information and donation opportunities, please visit our website at www.pro-retina-stiftung.de.

About the Potsdam Meeting

Since 2005, the Pro Retina Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness has invited the international retina research community to Potsdam for an interdisciplinary dialogue, known as the Potsdam Meeting. This international research colloquium has established itself in the European research calendar. Each year, a large number of young scientists accept this invitation. The primary goal of the Potsdam Meeting is to strengthen and inspire young scientists in the field of retinal research.

About the Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness

The Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness is dedicated to the research and prevention of eye diseases. Through targeted measures and programs, we strive to preserve and improve the vision of individuals, especially children with hereditary eye diseases such as Usher syndrome.

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