José-Alain Sahel is the Director of The Vision Institute, a Translational UPMC/Inserm/CNRS Research Centre, Paris, France; Professor of Ophthalmology at Pierre and Marie Curie University Medical School, and the Cumberlege Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London. He chairs a department of Ophthalmology at the Quinze-Vingts National Ophthalmology Hospital and at the Rothschild Ophthalmology Foundation and coordinates the Ophthalmology Clinical Investigation Centre and the National Reference Centre for Retinal Dystrophies.
He graduated from Paris University Medical School, performed his residency in Ophthalmology in Paris and Strasbourg, and performed a research fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard medical School and a visiting scholarship at Harvard Biological laboratories.
Prior to his appointment in Paris, Jose Sahel was a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard Medical School, Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Professor of Ophthalmology at Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, where he directed also the Eye Pathology laboratory.
Jose Sahel founded in 1992 the Laboratory of Retinal Cellular and Molecular Pathophysiology as a site for translational research on the mechanisms of retinal cell degeneration, with the aim of identifying therapeutic clues. This lab, at the core of the present Vision Institute (now 200 co-workers) has, among several achievements, developed innovative therapies for protecting retinal photoreceptors, and identified a key mechanism and family of proteins involved in the maintenance of cone-mediated central and light-adapted vision. Besides research on developmental biology, functional genomics, physiology and therapeutics (e.g. stem cells, gene therapy, pharmacology, and artificial retina), the development of high resolution in vivo cellular imaging, relevant biomarkers and disease models is conducted in an environment adductive to industrial partnerships. The author of more than 200 papers in specialty and general audience peer-reviewed journals, he co-authored several patents. Since FP 5, He has coordinated large scale European Research programs on retinal functional genomics, neuroprotection, ageing, and now therapy, as well as a network of over 50 European clinical trial centres on retinal diseases.
The member or chair of several scientific boards (Inserm, University, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Paris City, Alcon Research Institute,...) he also advises several biotechs and larger companies. He co-founded a spin-off of his laboratory, Fovea Pharmaceuticals in 2005, now the Ophthalmology Division of Sanofi Aventis. He received several awards for his teams’ achievements (e.g. Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) Trustee Award, Grand Prix NRJ-Neurosciences-Institut de France, Alcon Research Institute Award for Excellence in Vision Research, Foundation Altran Innovation Award, Honoris Causa Doctorate of the University of Geneva, Switzerland...). Since 2008, he is Honorary Member of the D.O.G., Chevalier des Ordres Nationaux du Mérite et de la Légion d’Honneur, Member of Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, Member of the Academy of Sciences, Institut de France, Human Biology and Medical Sciences section
José-Alain Sahel is a clinician-scientist in the field of vision research focusing his main interests on cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying retinal degeneration. He is conducting translational research integrating new basic research concepts into a clinical perspective. The major focus of his clinical research is developing treatments for currently untreatable retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration and vascular eye disease by resorting to pharmacological treatments, gene therapy and stem-cell therapy