Several Save Sight Institute academic staff have this week been teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam. As part of their Masters programme, students must undertake intensive practical training across Medical Retina, Glaucoma, Cornea and Paediatrics.
“The most valuable lesson that I’ve grasped from my great teachers…is how to think like a real consultant. [To] put yourself in the context of the emergency setting or daily clinic and ask yourself what you should do when your patients come in. Their lectures were not just given to provide me with the ophthalmic knowledge but also to guide me through each clinical scenario. I want to express my thankfulness to Professor McCluskey, Associate Professor John Grigg and Dr Con Petsoglou for your enthusiasm, dedication and kindness,” said student Hoàng Thanh Tùng.
The trip also provided an opportunity for our staff to meet with and tour the facilities at Hanoi Medical University, where many of our students work. Professor Peter McCluskey, Associate Professor John Grigg and Dr Con Petsoglou also met with the Director of the Vietnam National Institution of Ophthalmology (VNIO), Professor Nguyrn Xuan Hiep. The VNIO and Hanoi Medical University are this year celebrating 100 years of providing high quality ophthalmic care to the Vietnamese community and our partnership with these three institutions was celebrated over a cup of Vietnamese green tea.
“Today we had the honour of meeting Professor Hiep from the NVIO, which treats 500,000 patients per year and performs over 50,000 eye operations in Hanoi. They also provide a mobile operating unit that visits rural areas to provide outreach services. Professor Hiep was very supportive of our teaching programme and welcomes future visits and educational opportunities between our institutions,” said Dr Con Petsoglou of the meeting.
The group also welcomed the new cohort of Vietnamese scholars due to commence their Masters in International Ophthalmology later this year over some of the finest Vietnamese cuisine Hanoi has to offer.
Despite the unseasonal downpour as remnants of Cyclone Debbie headed down south, Save Sight Institute was well represented at this year’s Sydney Medical School Faculty Dinner, with 20 staff invited to attend. The dinner provided a unique opportunity to recognise the excellence of staff within the Faculty and several SSI staff were recognised for their outstanding achievement in ophthalmology.
Clinical Professor Frank Martin was recognised in the International Awards category, acknowledging his receipt of the Linksz Award from the International Strabismological Association. Professors Gerard Sutton and Stephanie Watson were both acknowledged in the National Awards category; Gerard gave the RANZCO Council Lecture in 2016 and Stephanie was elected Chair of the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia – the first female Chair.
Professor Brendan Murphy, the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, was the invited guest speaker and gave an empowered speech on health economics and the role of medical professionals in ensuring the financial sustainability of the medical system in Australia.
“The Sydney Medical School (SMS) Faculty Dinner is an annual event that acknowledges the many extraordinary and powerful contributions made by members of SMS to research, teaching and service to the community. It is a time to recognise and celebrate the many, varied contributions that the academic and professional staff of SMS make to the University, the health system and Australia” said SSI Director, Professor Peter McCluskey.
On Wednesday 5 April, SSI was pleased to welcome the team of hard-working volunteers from the Lugarno Lions Club to tour the Institute. With a long history of supporting local organisations, the Lugarno Club are this year recognising local contributors to ophthalmology and vision health. Long standing Lions member, Mr Jean-Claude Legrand, current Treasurer and Secretary of the Sydney Eye Lions Club, nominated our very own Associate Professor John Grigg and Professor Stephanie Watson to be recognised for their outstanding commitment and contribution to ophthalmology and vision research. The tour provided the Lugarno Lions Club with an opportunity to see firsthand our excellence in eye research and acknowledge the contributions of Professors Grigg and Watson.
The tour began in the busy Save Sight Institute Clinic, including a free eye check for one Lions volunteer with the new OPTOS machine (clean bill of health!). The tour continued to the aptly named NSW-ACT Save Sight Health Care/Foundation Save Sight Institute Lab to view the work of researchers in the area of retinal development. The Lions were treated to the sweeping views of Macquarie Street, with one volunteer regaling his tales of watching the military parades in his youth.
The tour continued to the Billson Lab with a comprehensive overview of the research by Professor Paul Martin, complete with some awe-inspiring images of the human retina.
The afternoon was capped off with Associate Professor John Grigg and Professor Stephanie Watson being formally invited to the Lugarno Club’s annual dinner on the 11 May to acknowledge their contribution to the community.
Save Sight Institute staff were pleased to welcome His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Linda Hurley to the Save Sight Institute on Wednesday 8 March.
His Excellency and Mrs Hurley took a tour of the research and clinical facilities of the Institute beginning with the Billson Lab and the research team led by Professors Paul Martin and Ulrike Grünert. The lab team provided His Excellency and Mrs Hurley a comprehensive overview of the processing of the retina tissue including images of retina sections.
His Excellency and Mrs Hurley (lab) suited up and Dr Sook Chung demonstrated stem cell culturing and gave a broad introduction to the stem cell project being undertaken by the Macular lab team led by Professor Mark Gillies.
From the Billson Lab, the welcoming party continued to Level 2 Lab where Associate Professor Michele Madigan’s doctoral student, Ephrem Sitiwin demonstrated how art can intersect with science with an enthusiastic overview of his research project in retinal development and His Excellency and Mrs Hurley were treated to the sweeping views of Macquarie Street, one of the best kept secrets in the Institute.
The tour finished with His Excellency and Mrs Hurley meeting with SSI clinic staff gaining an overview of common eye diseases treated by clinic staff. Smarou Avgoloupis and Associate Professor John Grigg gave His Excellency and Mrs Hurley the all clear after taking wide field digital retinal images with new imaging equipment. Nonna Saakova provided an interesting overview of the role of electrophysiology in the diagnosis of eye diseases.
The afternoon was capped with an afternoon tea, where we welcomed and recognised the contribution of the inaugural Youth Ambassadors, Sacha Thomas and Harrison Kirkwood, with His Excellency presenting certificates of appreciation. Mrs Hurley rounded out the afternoon tea with a rousing rendition of “You are my Sunshine”, a tradition she started at Government House, showcasing her passion for music and singing.
Held in sunny Brisbane, The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Asia summit brought together leading researchers and clinicians from across the Asia Pacific region to build bridges between disciplines and countries working on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of eye disease.
With the theme “Bridging disciplines and disparities: Connecting eye research with health outcomes”, the conference aimed to foster collaborations across research disciplines, amongst countries and between laboratories and clinicians. Save Sight Institute (SSI) staff were at the forefront of the conference, highlighting the depth of expertise across clinical and laboratory research into numerous sub-specialties in ophthalmology. SSI Director, Professor Peter McCluskey was co-chair of the conference, and Professor Stephanie Watson and Associate Professor John Grigg Scientific Program Chairs. Professor Robyn Jamieson (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Associate Professor Clare Fraser (Eye Movements, Strabismus, Amblyopia and Neuro-ophthalmology), Professor Mark Gillies (Retina) and Professor Paul Martin (Visual Neuroscience) were all members of their respective Scientific Program Committees.
The Save Sight Registries team were well represented with a booth, sponsored by Bayer Australia. Save Sight Registries coordinator, Pari Herrera-Bond, noted that:
“The booth at ARVO was an overall success providing an effective forum to promote the Registries, support existing users, scope potential international collaboration and emphasise the importance of the Registries.”
There was keen interest from clinicians from the Philippines, India, Nepal and Korea and existing user, Professor Leys from Belgium committed to further promoting the system in Belgium.
The future of eye research is in strong hands with several of SSI’s early career researchers presenting their research work during the Poster Presentation sessions. Dr Alessandro Invernizzi presented on the use of OCT in the diagnosis of infectious retinitis. Maria Cabrera-Aguas presented a poster entitled “The outcomes of oral and topical antiviral therapy in herpes simplex keratitis and keratouveitis”, co-authored with Dr Dana Robaei and Professor Stephanie Watson. Pauline Khoo’s highlight of the conference was presenting her first poster entitled “The results of corneal scraping and culture from a large case series of patients with microbial keratitis”. Pauline said of her attendance at the conference,
“I attended a number of symposiums and seminars which discussed some interesting findings with regards to prevention, diagnosis and treatment options for a number of eye diseases. I also met many bright scientists and doctors in the field of ophthalmology, which may hopefully lead to future collaborations.”