AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dr. Sylvia B. Smith, vision scientist and chair of the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, has been appointed to the National Advisory Eye Council.
Smith will serve a four-year term as one of 12 voting council members appointed by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to advise the secretary, Sylvia M. Burwell, and Dr. Paul A. Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute.
“Dr. Smith is an accomplished, invigorating scientist, educator, colleague and leader who will make exceptional contributions to this national council that is helping drive the future of vision research and vision health for our nation and beyond,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, MCG dean.
The council’s major responsibility is to review and make recommendations on grant applications for biomedical research or research training programs made to the National Eye Institute. The council also assesses vision research efforts across the nation and makes recommendations for how to stimulate research in needed areas. It also evaluates external gifts to support basic or clinical vision research or for land purchase, construction, maintenance or equipping of facilities for the National Eye Institute.
Five nonvoting members include the HHS secretary, the director of the National Institutes of Health, the director of the National Eye Institute, the chief medical director of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.
Smith is a retinal cell biologist working to better understand the normal function of the retina and how to protect it in conditions such as diabetes and aging. Smith, who also co-directs the James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute at Augusta University, has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1992.
She is a councilor to the Association of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Neurobiology Chairpersons; a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology; and a fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program. Smith is a member of the editorial board of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science and a guest editorial board member for Current Eye Research and Molecular Vision. Smith has been a member of numerous NIH review panels including recently chairing a National Eye Institute Special Emphasis Panel on Mentored Training Applications for early research career development. She has received multiple honors as an educator and scientist from MCG and The Graduate School at Augusta University.
She is a PhD graduate of the University of South Alabama, Mobile, and completed postdoctoral training at the National Eye Institute’s Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology. She joined the MCG faculty in 1991.