Dr. Mike Sapieha


Dr. Mike (Przemyslaw) Sapieha is the director of vision research at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre and head of the Neurovascular Eye Disease Lab. He is the Wolfe Professorship in translational vision research and holds the Canada Research Chair in retinal cell biology.

He is an associate professor in the departments of Ophthalmology and Biochemistry at the University of Montreal and an adjunct professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. In 2018, he was elected to the College of the Royal Society of Canada.

Mike Sapieha obtained his PhD in neuroscience and cell biology in 2005 at the University of Montreal. He subsequently pursued two postdoctoral fellowships: one in pharmacology at McGill University and the second in ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

Professor Sapieha’s research focuses on elucidating the causes of retinal vascular diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration. These diseases are the main causes of vision loss in developed countries. To date, he has published over 80 scientific articles in journals such as Cell Metabolism, Nature Medicine, Science Translational Medicine, Science Immunology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, PNAS, Blood and more. Dr. Sapieha filled several patents based on his work, and founded the biotech company SemaThera Inc of which he is the chief scientific officer.

During his career, Dr. Sapieha has won awards such as the 2019 Cogan Award from the Association for Research and Vision and Ophthalmology, the 2017 Joe Doupe Award from the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, the 2017 Canadian Association for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award and the first Alcon Research Institute Young Investigator Award in 2012.


Promoting Vascular Remodelling in Retinopathy

In developed countries, the leading causes of blindness such as diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity are characterized by disorganised, leaky retinal vasculature that eventually becomes fibrotic. These diseases are accompanied by retinal ischemia that is central to driving pathological angiogenesis. While current standards of care target pathological angiogenesis, an alternative approach would be to favour physiological vascular regeneration to counter the retinal ischemia that is the primary source of inflammation and angiogenic factors such as VEGF. Strategies to promote functional blood vessels based on modulating neurovascular interactions will be discussed.

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