Internationally renowned physician, vision scientist and thought leader Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., joins the faculty of the UC Davis Health Eye Center this fall.

Sieving has served as the director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) since 2001, where he managed an $800 million budget that supported 550 physicians, researchers and staff. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2006.

At UC Davis he’ll hold the title of professor of ophthalmology, and is expected to assume an endowed chair in retinal research at the Eye Center. As director of research, he’ll establish a new Center for Ocular Regenerative Therapy to advance gene-based treatments.

“The clinical and vision science faculty at the UC Davis Eye Center and Center for Vision Science have an outstanding reputation for conducting leading-edge research and treating the breadth of challenging eye conditions,” Sieving said.

“There’s a strong culture of collaboration within basic science departments and programs across the UC system, and it creates a dynamic environment for advancing science and health.”

As a senior NIH investigator, Sieving developed new treatments for retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease and other inherited disorders of the retina and macula – parts of the eye responsible for clear central vision. Studying these conditions in transgenic animal models, he looks for pharmacological approaches to slow the disease process. His work led to the first human clinical trial for retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder in which cells in the retina break down and die.

Sieving also is known for developing a treatment for X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS), a form of retinal degeneration that causes central vision loss in children and young adults. His lab developed a mouse model and successfully used gene therapy to reverse the condition, and he’s now conducting studies in patients.

In 2014 he launched the NEI Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI) for Regenerative Medicine, a 15-year research effort that aims to restore function of vision-critical nerve cells even after disease damage.

“UC Davis has a unique combination of resources that provide fertile ground for Dr. Sieving’s research and innovations – top-ranked medical and vet med schools, a stem cell program, a primate center, a world-class EyePod imaging laboratory, and a robust vision science program,” said Mark Mannis, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Science. “We’re deeply honored to have him join our faculty.”