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Mahajan Delivers the 2018 Straatsma Lecture

Jun 9 2018

Posted In:

20/20 Blog, Press

Los Angeles, CA — Vinit Mahajan was the 16th Straatsma Lecturer at UCLA’s Department of Ophthalmology Annual Seminar held at the Stein Eye Institute.  


Dr. Mahajan’s lecture, “Personalized Proteomics Guide Diagnosis and Therapy of Eye Disease,” detailed the work he is doing at Stanford University to create an advanced molecular platform that identifies protein biomarkers to diagnose and select personalized therapies for eye disease.


The goal of the annual seminar was to educate eye care specialists and vision scientists in the most up to date care for patients with ophthalmic disease. Distinguished faculty, nationally prominent lecturers, and renowned ophthalmologists held lectures, panel discussions, and case-based interactive presentations focused on the most current clinical practices, advanced surgical techniques, cutting-edge diagnostic technology, and translational research. 

Dr. Straatsma said, “Mahajan’s innovative presentation was a distinct highlight of the seminar.”

Mahajan presented data from recent studies on inflammatory and fibrotic eye diseases where his research team had collected liquid biopsies from patient surgeries. Molecular analysis of hundreds and thousands of proteins in the drops of eye fluid showed new biomarkers. In some cases, Mahajan’s team could explain why specific drugs failed to work in patients and clinical trials – the drug target was simply missing. In other cases, the research team was able to select a specific drug because they found, sometimes unexpectedly, a unique protein target.

“Personalized medicine approaches for patients with hard to treat eye disease will help us find the right drug at the right time to save sight,” Mahajan said. “Proteomics is a key aspect of the Molecular Surgery Program we are developing here at Stanford.”

Dr. Bradley Straatsma is a pioneer and legend in ophthalmology. In 1959 Dr. Straatsma became the first full-time chief of the division of ophthalmology at UCLA. He was then appointed the director of the Jules Stein Institute in 1968 and the first chairman of the department of ophthalmology, positions he held until stepping down in 1994. Straatsma’s vision paved the way for groundbreaking translational research that has made the Stein Eye Institute a leader in the field of ophthalmology. His more than 550 scientific publications include authorship and co-authorship of books and reports on vitreoretinal degeneration, retinal disease, choroidal melanoma and ophthalmic education. Dr. Straatsma has presented more than 50 distinguished and named lectures, including the Edward Jackson Memorial Lecture. He has received more than 75 honors and awards from universities and organizations worldwide.


During his remarkable career, Dr. Straatsma served as President of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology, President of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, Chairman of the American Board of Ophthalmology, President of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, President of the American Ophthalmological Society, Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, and President of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis. Straatsma championed ophthalmology research that reached beyond department boundaries. Committed to international ophthalmology, Dr. Straatsma is currently a Member of the International Council of Ophthalmology and President of the International Council of Ophthalmology Foundation.


The Straatsma Lecture was one of four named lectures given during the UCLA seminar. Carol Shields gave the Stein Lecture, “Ocular Oncology: A Footprint into the Future,” Dr. Stephen D. McLeod gave the Doheny Memorial Lecture, “Bigger or Better: Which Data Are Best?,” and David S. Rootman gave the Thomas H. Pettit Lecture, “30 Years of Corneal Transplantation. Are We at the 20/20 Transplant Yet?.”