Report issued on US-Indo collaboration to advance vision researchRockville, Md. -- A published report is now available online describing two innovative workshops for advancing vision research by combining the forces of researchers and clinicians from the U.S. and India. The report describes a U.S.-Indo vision collaboration and plans for moving forward in order to prevent, treat, and cure vision disorders worldwide.
The report appears in the May 2006 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, a journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and is also available free online at http://www.iovs.org/cgi/content/full/47/5/1717.
The workshops were held in 2005 − one in India and the other in the U.S. − and sponsored by ARVO. They were funded through a cooperative agreement between the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
The importance of advancing vision research
Blindness and low vision impact the social and economic fabric of every nation in the world. In the U.S., an estimated 38 million people age 40 and older experience blindness, low vision, or an age-related eye disease; the number is expected to grow to 50 million in the next 15 years. The number of people in India with blindness and low vision is estimated at 22 million.
The strength of the U.S. and India in vision
India has approximately 12,000 ophthalmologists, several schools of optometry and vision technology, and powerful information technology resources. It is also home to many people with inherited forms of eye disease who would benefit enormously from gains in identifying genetic and lifestyle factors related to their condition. The U.S. has approximately 18,500 ophthalmologists plus 17 schools and colleges of optometry, vast experience with large-scale studies in vision, and established mechanisms for funding projects that include investigators from other nations.
The goal of the workshops was to identify and promote U.S.-Indo collaborative opportunities. Five core areas were considered: molecular genetics of eye disease; clinical aspects of genetic eye disease; harmonization of clinical measurement techniques and terminology; translational physiology; and identification, development, and exchange of research resources.
Several new ideas emerged during the workshops. One is for an ambitious project called the Human Ocular Phenome/Genome Evaluation (HOPE) project. The project would require the involvement of specialists beyond the eye research community, such as human geneticists, bioinformaticists, and genomics and proteomics experts.
The report describes the steps that led to the workshops, the resources of the two nations, various regulatory and funding issues, the five core research areas, and proposals for collaborative research and training. A hope of the organizers is that additional eye and vision research scientists will see opportunities to participate.
(On August 24, 2005, just four months after the second workshop, a Statement of Intent was signed by India's Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, Dr. Maharaj K. Bhan, and the NIH's Director, Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, to expand collaboration in vision research.)
ARVO is a membership organization of more than 11,500 eye and vision researchers from over 70 countries. Established in 1928, the Association encourages and assists its members and others in research, training, publication, and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology. ARVO's headquarters are located in Rockville, Md. For more information about ARVO, logon to www.arvo.org.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS), published monthly in print and online, is a journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Included are original contributions that emphasize clinical and laboratory hypothesis-based research with statistically good results that clearly advance the fields of ophthalmic and vision research. For more information, logon to www.iovs.org.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) conducts and supports research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. The NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, logon to www.nei.nih.gov.
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