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FAU Frontiers in Science Presents "New Treatment Strategies for Retinal Diseases"

BOCA RATON, FL (March 1, 2007) – Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science presents Janet Blanks, Ph.D., as a guest speaker in   the Spring 2007 Frontiers in Science public lecture program.   The lecture, “New Treatment Strategies for Retinal Diseases,” will take place on Thursday, March 15 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 126 in the Charles E. Schmidt Biomedical Science Center.  

            In her presentation, Blanks will address new strategies for the treatment of retinal diseases.   The retina, the light sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, degenerates in several common diseases, such as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and an inherited retinal degeneration termed Retinitis Pigmentosa.   Recent technological advances have provided more accurate diagnosis of retinal diseases, and increased knowledge of their pathophysiology is paving the way for new treatment strategies.   Molecular biology has opened up promising new therapies to treat retinal diseases by either correcting the genetic lesion or rescuing retinal cells before the cell death occurs. Blanks will discuss her work in gene therapy for treatment of eye diseases and the other exciting advances in the treatment of retinal diseases.     

Blanks is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in retinal cell biology.   She received her doctorate at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and post doctoral training at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, also at UCLA.  Prior to joining the faculty as professor of biomedical science in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science at FAU, Blanks was director of the Eye Research Institute at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan.   Blanks is the first woman to direct an eye research institute in the United States.  

Vision impairment is one of the most serious and feared disabilities.   More than one million Americans age 40 and older are blind, and another 2.4 million in this age group are visually impaired, meaning that they have a visual correction of 20/40 or worse in the better eye, even with glasses.   Blindness and vision impairment alone cost the federal government more than $4 billion annually in benefits and lost taxable income.   However, to those affected with serious visual problems, the direct and indirect-quality of life- costs are incalculable.

For more information on the Frontiers in Science public lecture program, contact Patsy Jones at 561-297-1307 or    


Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serv es more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses strategically located along 150 miles of Florida's southeastern coastline. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts nine colleges:  the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Barry Kaye College of Business and the Colleges of  Education, Engineering & Computer Science, and Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs.

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