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accessing the live stream

Make sure you are registered to receive the zoom link. One link will provide you access to a stream of all three sessions described in this program. Please note that as this conference is being broadcast live, there will be breaks between sessions. The times below are in eastern time. Please adjust based on your location.

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5:00-5:15 p.m. ET
Welcome Remarks 
Jennifer Jones, President & CEO, Fighting Blindness Canada and Morgan Ineson, Senior Manager, Education, Fighting Blindness Canada

5:15-6:00 p.m. ET
Gene Therapy with Dr. Paul Yang 
Dr. Paul Yang is chief of the Paul H. Casey Ophthalmic Genetics Division and Martha and Eddie Peterson Endowed Professor at OHSU Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon. He is also principal investigator on multiple industry-sponsored retinal gene therapy clinical trials for inherited retinal degenerations. In this keynote presentation, Dr. Yang will describe what gene therapy is and how it works. He will provide an update on the first gene therapy available for an eye disease and outline what other potential treatments are in clinical trials.

6:00-6:15 p.m. ET

6:15-7:00 p.m. ET
Ask the Expert – Inherited Retinal Diseasefeaturing Dr. Paul Yang & Dr. Kirk Stephenson
There are over 20 inherited retinal dystrophies including, retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease, Usher syndrome, and Leber congenital amaurosis to name a few. Being diagnosed with one of these conditions can be overwhelming and you may have many questions about what can be done now and what treatments are being researched. Dr. Yang and Dr. Stephenson will give an overview of IRDs and answer your questions.

7:00-7:15 p.m. ET

7:15-8:00 p.m. ET
Lived Experience Panel 

In this engaging panel discussion, we will learn more about the emotional experience of living with vision loss, including coping with challenges, building resilience and the importance of connecting with others. This panel features Ruanne LaiDoug Purdy and Ali Usman.

8:00-8:15 p.m. ET
Closing Remarks

This View Point is in collaboration with UBC’s Research Excellence Cluster in Vision



Ruanne Lai, Ph.D. completed her doctoral degree in Cell & Developmental Biology in the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia in 2019. During this time, she investigated the effect of drugs on different genetic mutations of the inherited retinal dystrophy, retinitis pigmentosa, in frog models. Dr. Lai received a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science, investigating the effect of chronic contractile activity on mRNA stability in skeletal muscle in a rodent model. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree double majoring in Dance and Kinesiology from York University. Dr. Lai is passionate about bridging science and the arts, and bringing complex, scientific information to all through creative ways that can touch the heart.

In 2021, Dr. Lai completed a Knowledge Translation Professional Certificate (KTPC™) through SickKids and the University of Toronto. She was a Science Communication Training Fellow and a member of the Advocacy & Outreach Committee of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Previously, Dr. Lai was the Specialist in Research Communications, Advocacy, and Peer Support at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). She has written several research blog posts and spoken publicly at events hosted by Fighting Blindness Canada.

During her spare time, Dr. Lai enjoys reading audiobooks, playing the piano, and going on walks with her guide dog, Portia.


Image is of Doug Purdy

Doug Purdy was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia in 1941. He holds degrees from Mt. Allison University and UBC with a MSW specializing in Community Development. Doug worked a social planner for the City of Vancouver for 18 years and was a development consultant for over a decade. Now retired, Doug lives with wet macular degeneration and glaucoma and is an advocate for early diagnosis and equitable access to treatments for all.


Dr. Kirk Stephenson is a retina surgeon with a special interest in inherited retinal diseases (IRDs). Originally from Vancouver, he went to medical school and did his ophthalmology residency in Ireland. He helped develop the Irish national program for IRDs (Target 5000) and remains involved with this clinical and academic partnership. Dr. Stephenson is currently chief fellow in his second year of medical and surgical retina fellowship at UBC, and he will be relocating to Toronto in July 2024 to complete an IRD fellowship at SickKids. Additionally, he is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (UK) and the European Board of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Stephenson is committed to developing our understanding of IRD mechanisms and enabling diagnostic and therapeutic access for those in need. He currently has over 45 peer-reviewed publications and is actively involved with international IRD collaborators. He looks forward to hearing your thoughts and questions.


Ali Usman is a dedicated scientist pursuing a PhD in Experimental Physics in Regina, SK. He has conducted research at prestigious institutions like CERN, Brookhaven National Lab, and Jefferson Lab, focusing on the origins of the universe and sub-atomic particles. Outside the lab, Ali enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, and indulging in music and movies. He’s an avid advocate for science outreach and volunteers extensively. Facing the challenge of retinitis pigmentosa, Ali is determined to make science accessible to people with disabilities. His future goal is to work in science policy, promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the scientific world.


Dr. Paul Yang is Chief of the Paul H. Casey Ophthalmic Genetics Division and Martha and Eddie Peterson Endowed Professor at the Casey Eye Institute, OHSU, where he specializes in inherited retinal degenerations and ocular immunology. He is a physician-scientist with doctorates in medicine and neurophysiology from Dartmouth Medical School. He completed his residency in ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center (Salt Lake City, UT), fellowship in ocular immunology and uveitis at Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (Cambridge, MA), and fellowship in ophthalmic genetics at Casey Eye Institute (Portland, OR). Over his career, he has received multiple training awards from NIH, Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB), and received the 2015 ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award. He is currently a co-investigator on an NIH R01 to improve the detection and elucidate the mechanisms of melanoma-associated retinopathy, and principal investigator on an FFB TRAP1 Award to validate a new class of small molecule gene agnostic neuroprotection for inherited retinal degenerations. He is principal investigator on numerous gene therapy clinical trials for inherited retinal degenerations with expertise gene therapy associated uveitis.


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View Point is proudly supported by:

  • National Presenting Sponsor: Bayer
  • National Partners: Abbvie, Apellis, Astellas, Biogen, Janssen, Novartis & Roche

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