Signals Blog

October 13, 2016 was World Sight Day and the month of October is dedicated to blindness and vision loss awareness. No doubt that is why the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) recently shared the third installment in its Stem Cells in Your Face series.

In the video below, narrator Kevin McCormack, whose day job is communications and patient outreach at CIRM, explains stem cell research for two types of vision loss that are currently being funded by CIRM: retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). With close to 10 million people around the world affected by vision loss, patients who are eagerly watching for progress in treatments for these two conditions may seek some comfort knowing that CIRM has invested over US$100 million in 19 projects to find cures or treatments.

Curious about the progress we’re making in Canada? Check out the Foundation Fighting Blindness and note that this year’s Till & McCulloch Award winner, Professor Molly Shoichet (University of Toronto), is being recognized for the impactful 2015 paper demonstrating her team’s research, “involved taking photoreceptor cells derived from stem cells, encapsulating them in [a] hydrogel and injecting them into the retinas of blind mice. Vision was restored by approximately 15%.” You can read the news release here.

The CIRM blog, The Stem Cellar, claims it had “an ace up its sleeve” when producing its video thanks to descriptive eye anatomy animations produced and donated by Ben Paylor and his award-winning team at InfoShots. This is the same group behind the Stem Cell Network’s excellent series of one-minute animated videos, on different types of stem cells, narrated by experts in the Canadian stem cell community, including this one on retinal stem cells. (CIRM, remember that Canada had Ben first.)

When you watch the video below, look out for Rosalinda Barrero, a woman living with RP. Kevin McCormack has written about her in this post that shares the sweet story of how she and her husband accidentally met, a definite silver lining that was an outcome of her losing her vision.


Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at) We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.