Russell N Van Gelder, MD, PhD

Meeting:  2018 RANZCO


Date:      -

Session Title: Invited Speakers

Session Time:      -


Diagnosis of infectious inflammatory eye disease is dependent on detection and characterization of path- ogens. The advent of in vitro nucleic acid amplifica- tion techniques has allowed unparalleled sensitivity for detection of pathogen DNA and RNA. More recently, massively parallel DNA sequencing tech- nologies have permitted new metagenomic detection techniques including deep 16S ribosomal sequenc- ing, biome representational in silico karyotyping, and shotgun metagenomics.
In this talk, I will discuss the application of these techniques to ocular diseases. The normal conjunc- tiva is relatively paucibacterial, but unexpectedly often contains a resident microvirome including tor- que teno virus and Merkel cell polyoma virus. We find that unusual pathogens are frequently found in cases of culture-negative keratitis. In studying ble- pharitis, we find substantial, stable individual varia- tion in the microbiome of the lid margins.
In applying deep sequencing techniques to adenovi- ral conjunctivitis, we find far more diversity of ade- noviral strains and types than has been appreciated. Further, about 20% of severe conjunctivitis appears to be caused by pathogens other than adenovirus. Finally, in our studies of culture-negative endophthalmitis, we find these cases are frequently devoid of bacterial DNA, but often show viral DNA, which correlates with severity and outcome.
In total, deep DNA sequencing techniques have revealed unexpected complexity in infectious eye disease and have provided substantial new hypothe- ses for future studies.

Brief Curriculum Vitae:
Dr Van Gelder was born and raised in and around New York City. He earned his BS, MD, and PhD degrees from Stanford University. Dr Van Gelder completed his ophthalmology residency and uveitis and medical retina fellowship at Washington Uni- versity in St. Louis. He remained on faculty at Washington University from 1999 until 2007, serv- ing as Residency Program Director and Director of the Uveitis Service.
Dr Van Gelder is an active clinician-scientist and teacher. His research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1999. His laboratory has been at the forefront of two fields, non-visual photorecep- tion and pathogen detection in uveitis. As a gradu- ate student, he developed the amplified RNA technique used in almost all gene expression profil- ing experiments. In the field of non-visual photore- ception, his laboratory has made a number of seminal discoveries. The Van Gelder laboratory developed assays allowing characterization of the photoreceptive properties of cryptochrome proteins; helped establish the importance of melanopsin in non-visual photoreception; was first to demonstrate multiple physiologic subtypes of intrinsically photo- sensitive retinal ganglion cells; established that that the melanopsin photocycle is distinct from that of rods and cones; and most recently demonstrated the presence of a novel photoreceptive pathway in the retina utilizing the orphan opsin neuropsin. His lab- oratory has also been at the forefront of optochem- ical approaches to vision restoration. In the area of uveitis, his laboratory pioneered application of mul- tiplex and real-time PCR to ocular pathogen detec- tion; developed the Biome Representational in Silico Karyotyping (BRiSK) methodology for repre- sentational deep DNA sequencing; performed the definitive characterization of the ocular surface microbiome; and discovered that torque teno virus is a highly prevalent on the ocular surface and found in the vitreous in culture-negative endophthalmitis. He has published over 150 papers and book chap- ters. Dr Van Gelder has won numerous awards for his research, including the Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award, the Transla- tional Scientist Award of the Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation, the Heed-Gutman award of the Heed Foundation, and an ‘Audacious Goals’ award of the National Eye Institute. He is the 2017 recipient of the Bressler Prize of the Lighthouse Guild. He has given over 20 named lectures and over 100 invited talks.
Dr Van Gelder is Associate Editor of IOVS and serves on the editorial board of Ophthalmology. Nationally, he served in 2015 as President of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, having previously served as chair of the AAO Council. He currently serves on the National Advisory Eye Council of the NEI. He is also past president of the American Uve- itis Society and President Elect of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology.
Prior to moving to University of Washington, he held the Bernard Becker Professorship at Washington University. Since 2008, Dr Van Gelder has been the Boyd K. Bucey Memorial Chair, profes- sor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmol- ogy at University of Washington in Seattle, where he also serves as founding director of both the UW Medicine Eye Institute and the University of Washington Vision Science Center. He lives near Seattle Washington with his wife Suzy, a professor of pathology at UW. They have two children, a daughter in college and son in high school.