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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Names Vittorio Porciatti, D. Sc. as Director and Vice Chair of Research

Posted: 06.14.2010

Vittorio Porciatti, D. Sc.
Vittorio Porciatti, D. Sc.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, today announced that Vittorio Porciatti, D. Sc., has been named director and vice chair of research at the Institute. A tenured research professor of ophthalmology, as well as a neuroscientist, electrophysiologist and biophysicist, Porciatti’s current research focuses on prevention of glaucoma. He had served as Bascom Palmer’s interim scientific director since 2008.

“I am honored to have the privilege to work with such esteemed colleagues here at Bascom Palmer,” said Porciatti. “I look forward to building upon our strong collaboration and continuing to strive toward unparalleled ophthalmic discoveries. Together, we will help pave the way for Bascom Palmer’s contributions in revolutionary areas of study.”

“Dr. Porciatti’s vast expertise and exceptional leadership skills make him the ideal candidate for this pivotal position,” said Eduardo Alfonso, M.D., chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, upon announcing the appointment. “His inspirational vision and passion will serve as the foundation of groundbreaking research projects and help ensure their success.”

Porciatti holds a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Eye Institute for the project “Reversible Dysfunction of Retinal Ganglion Cells in Glaucoma.” Glaucoma causes progressive damage and death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), resulting in blindness. The prevalence of the disease will affect a projected 3,000,000 Americans by the year 2020. The long-term goal of his research project is to prevent RGC death in the early stages of glaucoma. Additionally, Porciatti is principal investigator of another NIH-funded study on experimental models of glaucoma and of the NIH core grant, “Miami Eye Team.” This latter grant supports clinical and basic research at various departments at the University.

Porciatti’s alma mater is the University of Pisa in Italy. Prior to joining Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s faculty in 2001, he served for many years as senior scientist and a member of the scientific committee at the Institute of Neurophysiology at the Italian Research Council, Pisa. He also had an appointment at the School of Ophthalmology, Catholic University Rome, for studies on clinical applications of electrophysiological techniques. He has published and lectured extensively, served on NIH study sections and collaborated with prestigious institutions, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Institut Pasteur in Paris. In 2000, his article in Nature Neuroscience on Pokémon-generated seizures explained physiological abnormalities in the brains of photosensitive children and made worldwide headlines.

The Porciatti laboratory investigates the ability of retinal neurons to recover functionally in disease, or after stress, using noninvasive electrophysiologic and imaging techniques. The central idea is that neural dysfunction precedes death and can be reversed. The focus is on glaucomatous optic neuropathy. The goal is to develop strategies to prevent and/or restore loss of neural function.

About Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is ranked #1 in ophthalmology in the United States by US News & World Report. Ophthalmology Times ranks Bascom Palmer Best Overall in Ophthalmology and #1 in both Patient Care and Residency Training. Year after year, Bascom Palmer’s specialists are selected by Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors. Bascom Palmer is the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational resource in the southeastern United States, with patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples and Plantation. Bascom Palmer is dedicated to improving the future of ophthalmology by creating state-of-the art technology and rapidly translating it into clinical treatments.