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About the NEI Audacious Goals Initiative

“It would be fantastic if…”

The AGI began with the Audacious Goals Challenge, a prize competition that challenged participants to imagine the greatest achievement for vision research during the next 10-15 years. The challenge attracted more than 450 innovative proposals from around the world. The NEI consolidated the proposals into six themes, which were further explored by leading scientists at the Audacious Goals Development Meeting. In consultation with the National Advisory Eye Council, the NEI chose to pursue the goal of restoring vision through the regeneration of neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system, specifically targeting the photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells.

AGI Steering Committee

The AGI Steering Committee plots the scientific trajectory of the AGI. Consisting of three to five leading researchers, the steering committee is responsible for identifying knowledge gaps and the scientific expertise needed to bridge them. The steering committee currently comprises four members:

Mark S. Blumenkranz, M.D.

Mark S. Blumenkranz, M.D., is the H.J. Smead Professor of Ophthalmology and chairman of the Stanford University Department of Ophthalmology. A surgeon, he investigates new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of retinal disease.


John E. Dowling, Ph.D.

John E. Dowling, Ph.D., is the Gordon and Llura Gund Professor of Neurosciences at Harvard University. Dr. Dowling is a pioneer in unraveling the functional organization and neurophysiology of the retina.


Pamela A. Raymond, Ph.D.

Pamela A. Raymond, Ph.D., is the Stephen S. Easter Collegiate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan. Using zebrafish as a model, she investigates retinal development and regeneration.


Joshua Sanes, Ph.D.

Joshua Sanes, Ph.D., is the Paul J. Finnegan Family Director and Jeff C. Tarr Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. He studies how neural circuits in the eye and brain form and process information.


National Advisory Eye Council

The National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC) provides administrative guidance to the NEI. The NAEC consists of 12 recognized leaders in the fields of ophthalmology, optometry, and basic sciences. The NAEC advises the NEI director on AGI funding plans and provides a second level of review on proposals to AGI funding opportunities.  More about the NAEC.

AGI Office at NEI

Steven Becker, Ph.D.

The AGI Office, led by Steven Becker, Ph.D., provides logistical support for all AGI-related activities.






AGI Working Group

The AGI Working Group comprises NEI staff within the Division of Extramural Research who help draft funding announcements, monitor the progress of research programs, and make recommendations to the AGI Steering Committee, the NAEC, and the NEI Director.

Donald F. Everett, M.A.

Donald F. Everett, M.A., directs the NEI program on collaborative clinical research.


Thomas N. Greenwell, Ph.D.

Thomas N. Greenwell, Ph.D., directs the NEI program on retinal neuroscience.


Michael A. Steinmetz, Ph.D.

Michael A. Steinmetz, Ph.D., directs the NEI program on strabismus, amblyopia, and visual processing.


Cheri L. Wiggs, PhD.

Cheri L. Wiggs, PhD., directs the NEI portfolios on perception and psychophysics, low vision, and blindness rehabilitation.


Contact the AGI

For more information, email NEIAudaciousGoal@nih.gov.

Last Reviewed: 
November 2014