Robert M. Boynton Lecture:
Christine Curcio

Thursday, November 11, 12:00 – 14:00 ET

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The Robert M. Boynton Lecture is awarded in recognition of leaders in the color vision community who embody the scientific rigor and collegiality that Robert Boynton brought to the field. The Boynton Lecture is presented by Christine Curcio, University of Alabama at Birmingham. This recognition has been awarded to Dr. Curcio for seminal contributions to our understanding of human retinal neuroscience, including the effects of aging and age-related macular degeneration.

Cone resilience, rod vulnerability - how precise retinal topography will help beat age-related macular degeneration

Christine A. Curcio, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham

AMD is both the most prevalent disease with a CNS neurodegeneration and the most approachable due to the precision and in vivo visibility of photoreceptors and their support cells and very large biological effects. We hypothesize that a center of cone resilience due to xanthophyll carotenoids in foveal Müller glia overlies a larger surround of rod vulnerability due to age-related lipidization of Bruch’s membrane and choriocapillary endothelium degeneration. A timeline of disease progression is in view for drusen-driven disease, across the lifespan and aligning spatially on the biology of foveal cone vision. Rods elucidate the next chapter of deposit-driven AMD end-stages as well as a new neuroscience for lysosome-related organelles in the retinal pigment epithelium.

About our speaker:

Dr. Christine Curcio is the White-McKee Endowed Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Curcio obtained an Sc.B. in Biology from Brown University and attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received a PhD in Neurobiology and Anatomy from the University of Rochester in 1981. In 1990, Dr. Curcio joined the Department of Ophthalmology at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Curcio focuses on aging and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the third largest cause of vision loss worldwide. Publications have included retinal cell biology, lipoprotein biology, clinical image validation, neurodegeneration, epidemiology, and transcriptomics. Key findings include demonstrating that rod photoreceptors die before cones in aging and AMD and discovering and characterizing lipoproteins of ocular origin that constitute the main pathway of soft drusen, AMD’s pathognomonic lesions. Recently her lab with clinical collaborators validated optical coherence tomography and quantitative fundus autofluorescence, two imaging technologies essential to AMD diagnosis and management, and developed the first timeline of geographic atrophy, a currently untreatable AMD end-stage.