Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Win a travel bursary for the XXVII ESCRS Congress in Barcelona

The John Henahan Prize for 2009 was launched at the 13th ESCRS Winter Meeting in Rome. John was the visionary editor and guiding light of EuroTimes from 1996 to 2001 and his work has inspired a generation of young doctors and journalists, many of whom continue to work for EuroTimes.
Ophthalmologists who are members of the ESCRS and who are under 40 years of age are eligible to apply for the prize. Entrants are invited to write a 1,000-word article on the theme My Best Patient; My Worst Patient. The closing date for entries is Friday June 26, 2009.
Dr Emanuel Rosen, chairman ESCRS Publications Committee, Dr Jose Guell, medical editor, EuroTimes, Mr Sean Henahan, editor, EuroTimes, Robert Henahan, contributing editor, EuroTimes and Paul McGinn, editor, EuroTimes will judge the entries.
The winning entrant will receive a travel bursary worth E1, 000 to attend the XXVII ESCRS Congress in Barcelona, 2009 in September and the winner will be presented with a special trophy at the Young Ophthalmologists Programme in Barcelona. We will publish the winning entry in the October edition of EuroTimes.
Entries, which must be accompanied by an ESCRS membership number, should be sent to Colin Kerr, Executive Editor, and EuroTimes at colin.kerr@escrs.org. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be considered once they have announced their decision.

•The winner of the John Henahan Prize for 2008 was Dr Shiu Ting Mak of Hong Kong. Dr Mak is pictured above receiving her prize from Dr Emanuel Rosen

Saturday, May 16, 2009

EURETINA lecturer calls for new research initiatives

Professor Eberhart Zrenner MD, Director of the institute for ophthalmic research and the Centre for Ophthalmology and head of the neuro-ophthalmology unit in Tuebingen Germany and chairman of the European Vision Institute, presented his EURETINA lecture which sought to answer the question of whether Can We Overcome the Fragmented European Research Space in Ophthalmology?

Dr Zrenner noted that ophthalmologists have reached a defining moment in the history of their discipline not only because there are so many new possibilities for diagnosis and therapy offered by new discoveries in molecular and cell biology, but also because the world’s aging population means that there will be a greater number of people than ever before with sight-threatening diseases.

However, he said that the ability of ophthalmology to answer that growing problem is compromised by the fragmentary nature of ophthalmic research in Europe, and by the lack of awareness among healthcare policy makers of the contribution ophthalmic research can make, and of the dire consequences that will likely occur if that field of endeavour is neglected due to lack of funds.

He noted that a Carlos Von Bonhurst, a consultant for European Community in Brussels, has said that there is no other field in medicine that is more fragmented in Europe than Ophthalmology. In fact, there are more than 40 national and international ophthalmological associations in Europe. While those organisations are essential for the continuity of clinical research, what is lacking is an organisation to provide a single voice to defend the interests of ophthalmological research before the EU.

“The result of this plethora of ophthalmic societies is a low impact of ophthalmology in the making of research policies. We have a low visibility compared with other area, like neuroscience oncology or vascular sciences. There is a lack of structured proposals that will enable us to get enough money to form huge networks working together on European-wide trials,” Dr Zrenner said.

Another type of fragmentation that occurs in ophthalmic research is a lack of communication between those engaged in basic science inspired by clinical findings in ophthalmological practice and those engaged in clinical research.

“The challenge is really to improve our acceptance of vision research among the scientific community we are not just a little eye which may be a part of the brain we are more and we can make that point only if we speak with a loud voice and in a harmonized focused manner in order to avoid fragmentation. We have to avoid duplication of research with multiple small trials examining identical issues instead of one large trial. We also have to merge the two cultures of basic science on the one hand and clinical science on the other,” Dr Zrenner said.

To that end, Dr Zrenner and his associates have founded the European Vision Institute, an organization whose aim is to lobby for research funding for ophthalmology, establish study protocols, and foster collaboration between different research organizations. The fruits of their labour so far include EVI-Genoret and RETNET, projects investigating the genetic factors of retinal disease.

More recently they have obtained funding for and have established Eurovisionet which aims to provide a scientific integration of European vision research and have established an online portal to which all engaged in ophthalmic research can contribute.

“Yes, we can overcome the fragmented nature of ophthalmic research in Europe if we want to and we get together.

Presenting Dr Zrenner with his EURETINA lecture award, EURETINA co-founder and general secretary Gisbert Richard MD (see picture above with EURETINA president Jose Cunha Vaz)noted that the Clare Jung foundation that sponsored the award do so because they are convinced that the greatest success in fighting blindness will be found in the field of retina and optic nerve research.

Friday, May 15, 2009

EURETINA is getting bigger and better

In his opening speech at the opening ceremony of this year’s EURETINA Congress, the president of the European Society of Retina Specialists, Professor José Cunha-Vaz MD (pictured above with incoming president Bill Aylward) expressed his satisfaction with the growth of the society and the continuing improvement of the Congress from year to year.

“I am particularly pleased with the way our society has expanded and that it is offering participants what they want and we would like to continue going in that direction. Bill Aylward from the UK, who will assume the presidency next year, will certainly carry that work further with even better congresses,” he said.
He credited the Congress organisers Agenda with making the congress run more smoothly and efficiently. He noted that in a move to integrate the different fields of ophthalmology next year’s EURETINA meeting will be held in PARIS directly before and at the same venue as the Annual Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive surgeons

“The fact that the largest subspecialty societies are coming together will be an impressive opportunity for the industry and for anterior and posterior segment surgeons to gain more exposure to each other’s disciplines.

He noted that the European Society of Retina Specialists has recently signed an agreement for Ophthalmologica, one of the oldest and most prestigious European scientific journals in ophthalmology to become the society’s official scientific journal. Starting in 2010 it will have Professor Cunha-Vaz as its editor in chief.
“This is something we can offer our members to allow us to express our scientific studies and somehow create a better, solid basis for our scientific development, he added.

There followed a Musical Interlude by young Portuguese pianist João Bettencourt da Câmara. Born in 1988, he has been performing piano recitals since the age of seven. During his first international tour to the USA in 2007 he received much enthusiastic critical acclaim, being compared to a young Sviatoslav Richter, widely acknowledged as the greatest classical pianist of the 20th century. For his first performance during the EURETINA opening ceremony he performed Schumann’s famous Etudes Symphonique, a piece which takes a simple theme into variations that range in mood and tempo from sombre to playful and concludes with a jubilant allegro brillante based on a new theme.