Audacious Goals Initiative


November 4, 2013
This article first appeared in the November 4, 2013 PXE International eNewsletter

NEI Audacious Goal chosen -
Regenerate Neurons and Neural Connections in the Eye and Visual System

After more than a year of gathering ideas and connecting with experts from all over the world, the National Eye Institute (NEI) announced its Audacious Goal in vision research and blindness rehabilitation that will drive vision science for the next decade. The goal – to regenerate neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system – hopes to repair, replace or regrow damaged ocular cells to preserve vision in one or more blinding diseases. In addition, two High Priority areas were chosen: Molecular therapy for eye disease, and Intersection of aging and biological mechanisms of eye disease.

Read more about the Audacious Goal and High Priority areas.

NEI Audacious Goal announcement by Dr. Paul Sieving on May 5, 2013 at ARVO


April 30, 2013
This article first appeared in the April 2013 PXE International eNewsletter

NEI holds historic “do-it-yourself” development meeting February 2013

In August 2012, the National Eye Institute (NEI) offered $3,000 awards to as many as 20 contestants who submitted the most compelling one-page ideas to advance vision science. Of 476 entries submitted to the Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation, 10 winning contestants were invited to present, discuss and refine their ideas at the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting held February 24-26, 2013 in Potomac, MD. 


The NEI is identifying audacious goals to enhance its strategic planning, to encourage broad, long-term thinking beyond the current needs and opportunities, to help drive innovation in vision research for the next decade. An audacious goal, if attained, would fundamentally change vision research or vision care. The goal would have a broad impact and be considered reachable in about 10 years.

The meeting participation was invitation only and Sharon Terry, CEO of Genetic Alliance and PXE International, was one of the invited 200 representatives from every sector of the vision community, including clinicians, researchers, private funding foundations, patient advocates and entrepreneurs, as well as government scientists and regulators. Francis Collins kicked off the meeting with a call to think broadly and with new minds about the issues before us. Attendees participated in a series of six breakout sessions addressing the following topics: aging and mechanisms of disease development and progression; molecular therapy at the gene level; systems approaches to disease analysis; molecular and functional analysis and imaging of ocular tissues in vitro and in vivo; regenerative therapies for ocular disease; and vision restoration by optogenetics, small molecules and prosthetics. For each session a working group identified goals and their feasibility and implementation, which they presented to the attendees for discussion.

NEI staff, in consultation with the National Advisory Eye Council, and via voting from the attendees, will finalize a set of audacious goals that will be used to guide research priorities for the NEI and other vision research organizations.  Sharon said, “It was a novel meeting, and highlighted that supporting individuals to try radical ideas will be part of the acceleration of science into treatments that we seek. I have followed up with some of the awardees to see if they need help from the patient community.”