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Vision Research Community Discusses Pivotal Role of Ocular Epidemiology in the Translation of Basic Research

The Fourth U.S. Symposium on Ocular Epidemiology, held January 29-31, 2007, in Sarasota, Florida, by Johns Hopkins University through a grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI), drew vision researchers from throughout the country. In keynote comments, Harvey Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., President of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, set forth the six major challenges that ocular epidemiology faces:

  • Staying abreast/ahead of demographic shifts (e.g., aging of population, growth of minority population which disproportionately experience eye disease)
  • Providing a pathway to individualized medicine through analysis of large population-based studies
  • Bridging the gap between analysis and action (i.e., understanding a problem and offering solutions)
  • Bringing the tools of assessment into health interventions (e.g., rapid translation of basic research into clinical practice)
  • Connecting research and risk factors (e.g., independence of/inter-relationships between genetic basis of disease, physiology at the cellular level, impact of environment and social factors, etc.)
  • Defining the future course of ocular epidemiology vis-ŗ-vis the previously stated challenges

"Dr. Finebergís presentation paralleled the new paradigm for healthcare research and delivery envisioned by National Institute of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni-that is, healthcare that is Predictive, Preemptive, Preventive and Personalized," observed attendee James Jorkasky, NAEVR Executive Director. "I am pleased that the research being conducted by these NEI-funded scientists is at the cutting edge of this new paradigm, especially in dealing with the major health problem of vision impairment and eye disease."

Dr. Fineberg and NEI Director Dr. Paul SievingDr. Fineberg and NEI Director Dr. Paul Sieving
NEIís Dr. Rick Ferris and Dr. Janine SmithNEIís Dr. Rick Ferris and Dr. Janine Smith
Joyce Schiffman (Bascom Palmer Eye Institute), Dr. Rohit Varma (Doheny Eye Institute) and NEIís Dr. Emily ChewJoyce Schiffman (Bascom Palmer Eye Institute), Dr. Rohit Varma (Doheny Eye Institute) and NEIís Dr. Emily Chew