Team / Partnerships
Sheila Nirenberg, PhD, Principal and Founder is the Nanette Laitman Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and the founder of two companies – one that develops new kinds of treatments for blindness (Bionic Sight), and one that develops new kinds of smart robots (NN). She has won numerous awards for her discoveries and inventions, including a Frontiers of Science Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, a NYC BioAccelerate Prize, and a MacArthur Award; her work on cracking the retina’s neural code and combining it with optogenetics has been featured in TED talks, BBC’s “The Genius Behind…”, Discovery Channel, Scientific American, National Geographic, Bloomberg, and many peer-reviewed publications. Her company, Bionic Sight, started its first clinical trial in March, 2020 (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT04278131). Her other company, NN, licensed its technology to Ford in 2016 for use in its autonomous driving program, and in 2020 entered into a collaboration agreement with Intel to commercialize NN's computer vision strategy.
Bill Hauswirth, PhD, Co-founder, is Professor of Molecular Genetics and Ophthalmology at the University of Florida. He is one of the pioneers of retinal gene therapy. His group developed high-efficiency viral delivery methods, which were used in the treatment of Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) and color-blindness, work that was listed as one of the top discoveries of 2009 by TIME magazine. He has won numerous awards, including a 2001 Alcon Award for Vision Research, the 2002 Foundation Fighting Blindness Trustees Award, the 2004 John Kayser International Award for Retinal Research, and the 2005 Scientist of the Year from the Hope Foundation.
Belfer Gene Therapy Core
BS01, the gene therapy vector, was manufactured at the Belfer Gene Therapy Core Facility at Weill Cornell Medicine. The Facility provides services and infrastructure for studies in both basic science and clinical research (GMP level) that utilize gene transfer vectors.
Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC) is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that uses its proprietary gene therapy platform to develop products designed to transform the lives of patients with severe diseases, with an initial focus in ophthalmology. AGTC's lead product candidates are designed to treat inherited orphan diseases of the eye, caused by mutations in single genes that significantly affect visual function and currently lack effective medical treatments. In 2017, they entered into a collaboration agreement with Bionic Sight to invest in/support Bionic Sight's treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Pharmaceutical Research Network (PRN) is an ophthalmic-specific CRO with an outstanding record in all phases of clinical trial management and will manage Bionic Sight’s clinical trial(s). The company was founded by Dr. William and Jeanette Stewart in 1999 with the mission to fight blindness through exceptional clinical trial administration and has since managed over 76 trials from 22 sponsors. The company provides services from clinical initiation to closeout, including study start up, clinical site monitoring, medical monitoring, pharmacovigilance, data management, biostatistics, and medical writing.
Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island (OCLI): Founded in 1997, OCLI, a Spectrum Vision Partners managed practice, is one of the leading ophthalmology practices in the United States. OCLI boasts 21 state-of-the-art medical facilities across Manhattan, Nassau and Suffolk counties, housing the most advanced technology available to offer patients a variety of ophthalmic services and treatments. OCLI is led by 41 highly skilled eye surgeons in each major sub-specialty of eye care, providing comprehensive eye care services, including treatment for cataracts, corneal disease, refractive surgery, glaucoma, oculoplastics, retinal disease, and neuro-ophthalmology in addition to participating in trailblazing research studies to evaluate the efficacy of new treatments of eye disease to help restore vision. OCLI also employs six Doctors of Optometry, three Physician Assistants, and one NYS Licensed Aesthetician. OCLI will be performing Bionic Sight’s first clinical trial with Glenn Stoller, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist who specializes in medical and surgical diseases of the retina as the Principal Investigator.