Vision Health

Leader: Dr Isabelle Brunette, M.D.

The vision health research axis scientific program aims to:

    • elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms of retinal and optic nerve degeneration, including conditions linked to macular degeneration and glaucoma;
    • supply biophotonics for corneal transplants and other eye diseases;
    • perfect innovative diagnostic instruments;
    • develop leading-edge preventive and curative approaches.

Research Areas
Research Chairs
Accomplishments and Recent Achievements
University Affiliations

Research Areas

  • Stem cells and cellular therapy: molecular isolation and characterization of retinal stem cells, and directed differentiation of human embryonic and mesenchymatous stem cells in retinal neuronal cells and in trabecular cells.
  • Pathophysiological mechanisms: oxidative damages, axonal damages, biomechanics/vascular, neuroprotection, biophysics of axonal growth of retinal neurons and role of growth factors in retinal ganglion cell death relevant to glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other diseases of the optic nerve.
  • Corneal diseases/femtosecond laser: surgical technique development; in vivo tissue, molecular and cellular imaging; cellular and molecular biophotonics; and tissue engineering for corneal transplants.
  • Epidemiology/public health: impacts of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma on the loss of independence experienced by patients; and access to eye health care in Quebec.

Use the search tool to discover our research investigators in vision health.


School of Optometry

The partnership between the Vision Health Research Axis and the School of Optometry of the University of Montreal will serve to carry out the research mission of the future University of Montreal’s Eye Centre, which will be set up at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital. This joint research program will focus its activities on eye health and vision health research: basic research, clinical research, epidemiology/public health and new technology assessments.

The partnership agreement with the School of Optometry also includes plans for establishing a joint doctorate program.


Thanks to our partnership with INRS – Energy, Materials and Telecommunication, the innovative BioFemto Vision program continues to grow. Research investigators from both establishments are working on the development and implementation of new technology that relies on femtosecond laser for basic research, imaging and eye health care. 

Research Chairs

    • Canada Research Chair in Ophthalmology and Visual Science: Dr. Len Levin, M.D., Ph.D.
    • Canada Research Chair in Retinal Cell Biology: Dr. Mike Sapieha, Ph.D.
    • Canada Research Chair in Perinatology, Level 2: Dr. Sylvain Chemtob, M.D., Ph.D.
    • Wolfe Foundation Translational Research Chair in Macular Degeneration: Dr. Sylvain Chemtob, M.D., Ph.D.
    • Charles-Albert Poissant Research Chair in Corneal Transplantation: Dr. Isabelle Brunette, M.D.
    • Caroline Durand Chair in Cellular Therapy for Eye Diseases: Dr. May Griffith, Ph.D.

      Accomplishments and Recent Achievements

        • Recruitment of 3 researchers: Dr. Bruno Larrivée, Ph.D., Dr. Cristos Botopoulos, Ph.D. and Dr. May Girffith, Ph.D.
        • Creation of the Caroline Durand Chair in Cellular Therapy for Eye Diseases: Dr. May Griffith, Ph.D.
        • Amorchem grant: Inhibition of SEMA3A in the prevention and treatment of ocular hyperpermeability, Dr. M Sapieha - $ 0.767M.
        • Designation of the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont - CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal as the University of Montreal Centre for Ophthalmology.


          The Vision Health Research Axis plans to strengthen its development of research groups in neuroretinal diseases. In order to achieve this objective, it plans to recruit 6 research investigators (including three clinical investigators) who are experts in the field of neuronal death and regeneration of the retina and optic nerve. Thanks to such recruitments and active partnerships, the Vision Health Research Axis will be able to play a leading role in the University of Montreal’s future Eye Centre.

          The Vision Health Research Axis aims to consolidate the development of its research programs currently in place. In addition, the Vision Health Research Axis seeks to strengthen and stimulate the transfer of knowledge, the valorisation and commercialization of its own discoveries (patents, licenses, clinical trials I-IV). To this end, a new Regenerative Medicine & Translational Research Program will be established, based on scientific excellence and the collaboration and cofertilization of its fundamental and translational researchers, clinical researchers and ophthalmologists.

          University Affiliations

          The research investigators of the Vision Health Research Axis are affiliated and carry out one or more course loads with the following departments and faculties of the University of Montreal:

          • Medicine,
          • Graduate and Postgraduate Studies,
          • ophthalmology,
          • Molecular Biology,
          • Public Health,
          • The School of Optometry.