Co-Chairs Discuss Record-Breaking OIS@ASCRS

OIS Co-Chairs Discuss Record-Breaking OIS@ASCRS

Nearly 600 people packed the ballroom at the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles to make yesterday’s OIS@ASCRS the largest to date.

Event co-chairs Emmett Cunningham Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, Gil Kliman, MD, and William Link, PhD, spent a few minutes hitting on the highlights of the day. (Watch the video or listen to the podcast.)

“We’re so fortunate that we struck a chord in the community,” said Link, long-time ophthalmology pioneer and managing director at Versant Ventures. “I am nourished and satisfied with all that happens around the OIS meeting. It’s partly driven by the content but not wholly. It’s also who’s here. It’s worth their time. Several people say how much they get done during an OIS meeting.”

The day’s discussions – which we’ll be delivering to you in coming weeks – covered several pressing areas in ophthalmology, including dry eye disease and myopia. Discussions also focused on financial considerations such as growing private equity interest in ophthalmology practices and venture financings for medical device companies targeting ophthalmology.

Cunningham, managing director at Clarus Funds, moderated the discussion centered around venture financing. Participants represented leading firms including Piper Jaffray, Canaan Partners, Longitude Partners, and New Enterprise Associates. Jonathan Norris, managing director of Silicon Valley Bank, presented data on financing.

“Everyone acknowledges the headwinds,” Cunningham says. “But I was optimistic when I heard that there were more Series As then there have been in a long time, so early investing is strong. There is much more money in the sector then there has been. So I’m optimistic. It’s not to say every deal will get financed, but the good ones will I think.”

Kliman’s session, “Making Myopia Great Again: New Opportunities in Low Myopia,” likely identified one of ophthalmology’s emerging sectors.

Cunningham says the presentation along with the discussion about dry eye led by Ed Holland, MD, illustrated how quickly products and therapeutics can emerge from innovative ideas. “Sometimes it’s really hard to look forward and see how impactful an innovation is going to be,” he said.

The interest by private equity investors could open the door for smaller companies trying to sell innovative technologies to ophthalmology practices. Kliman, managing director of InterWest Partners, said the trend could smooth the path for companies to go commercial, noting that one of the largest barriers to technology is getting widespread adoption in smaller practices: “A lot of companies are frustrated that even when a technology works well and has tremendous patient benefit, it still needs to be integrated in the work flow in order to be successful. Perhaps in a larger more corporate format they would be better able to rapidly deploy something.”

Thanks to everyone who participated and attended Thursday’s successful OIS@ASCRS including our many great sponsors.