Academy and Former Ezell Fellow and Fry Medal Recipient Named Dean at Indiana University
On September 20, 2010, the Indiana University (IU) Chancellor announced Professor Joseph A. Bonanno, OD, PhD, FAAO, as the new dean of their School of Optometry. Bonanno will succeed Professor Sarita Soni, OD, MS, FAAO, vice provost for research at IU, who has been serving as interim dean of the optometry school.
Joe Bonanno is a leading researcher and an experienced and successful administrator. Joe has been the School of Optometry's executive associate dean for academic affairs and student administration. He came to IU in 1998 from a professorship at the University of California Berkeley School of Optometry. As a teacher of biochemistry and physiology, over the past 18 years he has focused his research on the ion and fluid transport properties of the corneal endothelium and on corneal metabolic activity in humans.
Joe is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and, in 2000, received the American Optometric Foundation's Glenn A. Fry Lecture Award recognizing current research by a distinguished scientist or clinician. In October 2009, he was appointed to the National Advisory Eye Council of the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute (NEI). It provides advice on conducting and supporting research, health information dissemination, training, and other programs that address blinding eye diseases and disorders, visual function mechanisms, sight preservation, and health needs of visually impaired individuals.
Students at Academy 2010 San Francisco
Students were recently reminded that all Academy 2010 San Francisco lectures, workshops, symposia, scientific presentations, and social events are open to them. Students and residents were especially encouraged to attend the Students and Residents Networking Luncheon Saturday, November 20, from 12:15 to 1:15 pm. They were also reminded about the opening Plenary lunch session where they can expect an exciting dialogue between two vital players in the field of women's health! Susan Wood, PhD, Associate Professor at George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services, and Barbara Brenner, JD, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Action.
Another reminder was for the Monroe J. Hirsch Research Symposium, “Ocular Genetics: From Laboratory to Clinical Practice and Back Again,” where leaders in ocular genetics will discuss how the National Ophthalmic Disease Genotyping Network (eyeGene) can help molecular diagnosis in practice and future therapeutic options for inherited eye disease.
Finally, they will have a treat with their friends at the new Australia Party! The Lucas Cates Band (http://www.lucascates.com/) will rock the house while they enjoy a free Foster's Beer! The party will be held Friday, November 19, 2010, at Moscone Center West, Level 3, from 9:00 pm to late.
ORGANIZATION & INSTITUTION NEWS
New York Times Highlights the Heroic Efforts and Tragic Death of a Dedicated Optometrist in Afghanistan
Recently, the New York Times (Robbins, August 7) reported on the tragic death of a team of eye care workers in Afghanistan, including Tom Little OD. Dr. Little raised three daughters with his wife in Afghanistan, avoided kidnappings during the Russian occupation, hid in his basement for months during the Taliban rule in the 1990s, survived rocket attacks, and endured arrests for one reason, friends and family members said: to provide eye care for indigent Afghans. Dr. Little was the coordinator of the National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation (NOOR) Eye Care Program in Afghanistan, overseeing hospitals and clinics, teaching optometry, and administering care in the most rural of areas.
Six Americans, a Briton, a German, and four Afghans were working with the group's mission to Nuristan at the time of the attack that cost them their lives. The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack, accused the aid workers of proselytizing. However, the group's director said that although the group was Christian, its policies prohibited proselytizing. Dr. Little was known for his calm demeanor.
For years, Dr. Tom Little's wife was a teacher at an international school in Kabul, assisting her husband when she could. She was recovering from knee surgery and did not make this latest trip back to Afghanistan.
Tom's father, Henry O. Little, Sr, was a noted ophthalmologist in Kinderhook, NY. In 2007, Dr. Little earned a degree in optometry in Boston at the New England College of Optometry (NECO) so that he could teach the latest techniques in Afghanistan. At that time, current President of SUNY College of Optometry, David Heath, OD, DEd, FAAO, was at NECO and was involved in designing a special program for Tom Little, “as his history, education, and experience was so different from any individual we had dealt with in the past, and indeed he excelled” Heath said. “Getting his OD was a goal he established for himself even though he was in his late 50s at the time. He graduated in 2008, and throughout his educational program, he was committed to serving the people of Afghanistan.” Another colleague, Dr. Bina Patel, FAAO, was the individual most responsible for his program at NECO, and she knew him well. Dr. Patel cites an e-mail she received from Dr. Little, “The IAM has worked continuously in Afghanistan since 1966, which means that we have worked in the precommunist era, then under the Russians, followed by the various mujaheddin groups in the early nineties who where replaced by the Taliban and now under the present American supported regime. The NOOR Eye Program has been the largest of the projects supported by IAM but only one of a number of health, education, and technical IAM initiatives. My wife and I (along with three daughters raised here) have been living and working in Afghanistan with the NOOR/IAM Eye Program for most of the past 33 years through all of the above governments/eras. IAM has a solid reputation here in Afghanistan for implementing and running worthwhile and well-administered projects. There is probably not an Afghan here or abroad, for example, who is not familiar with the NOOR Eye Program.”
Vision Community Actively Educates U.S. Capitol Hill
In September, U.S. legislators were educated about three different aspects of vision: the AEVR International AMD Awareness Week briefing; the Vision 2020/U.S. briefing on children's eye care around the world; and the Prevent Blindness America briefing about the impact of ultraviolet radiation on vision.
Details of the briefings can be found at: International AMD Week Briefing: http://www.eyeresearch.org/press_releases/7.19.10.html
Vision 2020/U.S.'s 9/16 Children's Vision briefing: http://www.eyeresearch.org/naevr_action/world_sight_day_2010.html
PBA's 9/29 UV and Vision Briefing: http://www.eyeresearch.org/pdf/UVBrief_Invite_Print.pdf.
U.S. Appeals Court Allows NIH Funding of Stem Cell Research to Continue
The Associated Press (Pickler, September 9) reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, ruled Tuesday that government funding of embryonic stem cell research can continue for now. The court granted the Obama administration's request to allow the funding from the National Institutes of Health while it appeals a judge's order blocking the research. Bloomberg News (McQuillen, September 9) noted, “Lifting the ban allows the government to temporarily continue funneling tens of millions of dollars to scientists seeking cures for diseases such as Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, and genetic conditions. Embryonic stem cells can grow into any kind of tissue and may have the potential to accelerate a range of research.”
Reliability and Interpretation of Genetic Testing Companies Results Questioned
The Christian Science Monitor reported September 15 that a Government Accountability Office study found that results often vary widely among genetic- testing companies. And, the New England Journal of Medicine has urged that consumers be protected from “unrealistic claims and misinterpretations of complex, dynamic genomic information”. Certainly, interpreting the data can be tricky, and there is a wide agreement that genetic factors play only a partial, and poorly understood, role in the development of disease. The study inevitably raises the question of how medicine will be practiced in an Internet age, where patients can become as familiar with new therapies and tests as their doctors.
Some Insulin-Producing Beta Cells May Persist in Long-Term Type 1 Diabetes Survivors
According to a study published online in the journal Diabetes in September, the insulin-producing beta cells destroyed by type 1 diabetes may actually be in a constant state of turnover, even in people who have had diabetes for decades. They studied 114 people who had survived with type 1 diabetes for at least 50 years. About 60% of those in the study retained the ability to have positive C-peptide results, which is an indication that they could still be making insulin.
An Experimental Synthetic Cornea Alternative to Cadaver Corneas?
In the August 25 issue of Science Translational Medicine, there is a report that an experimental synthetic cornea implanted in 10 patients may be a potential alternative to cadaver corneas for curing vision loss due to corneal inflammation and scarring. The 2-year preliminary test showed that the biosynthetic corneas restored vision as effectively as cadaver corneas, did not require antirejection drugs, and allowed normal tears to form.
It is said that worldwide, more than 10 million people have impaired vision or blindness as a result of corneal damage, but only a small fraction ever receive transplants from cadaver donors. The threat of graft rejection from donor corneal transplants, plus the shortage of donor corneas, has motivated the search for other ways of treating corneal damage. But, the synthetic cornea, at its present stage of development, may only be suitable for a small percentage of patients due to the difficulty in implanting them and the potential for infection and other complications.
Faulty Gene Identified for Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy
In the online publication of the New England Journal of Medicine (August 25), researchers report having identified a faulty gene that is said to be the major cause of Fuchs corneal dystrophy.
Free Sticker on First Aid for Eye Emergencies
Prevent Blindness America reminds us that the home is where most eye injuries occur and urges everyone to make eye safety a priority at home and wear proper eye protection. Prevent Blindness America offers a free First Aid for Eye Emergencies sticker, in both English and Spanish, which can be placed on the inside of a medicine cabinet in case an eye accident occurs.
Optos to Participate in Major National Eye Institute Study
Early in September, Optos announced its instrument would be involved, with Thomas Friberg, MD, as an investigator. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) 2 is a nationwide ancillary study conducted by the National Eye Institute with some 4200 subjects to determine methods to slow the progression of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration. Optos' wide-field autofluorescence devices will be used in monitoring the effectiveness of treatment in the patients.
Novartis Completes Its Purchase of Alcon
On August 26, 2010, Novartis completed its purchase of Alcon stock from Nestlé resulting in 77% majority ownership of Alcon. Novartis, CIBA VISION, and Alcon report that they will now look to drive customer value by focusing on complementary ways of working together, where it makes good business sense, and by building on established expertise to open new opportunities.
Polaroid's New 3D Eyewear Line
RealD, a leading supplier of 3D technology for cinema and other consumer products, and Polaroid, report that they have joined forces to create a line of custom frames that will be compatible with RealD 3D enabled movie theaters globally. The new curved lenses will offer a field of vision “so that moviegoers can fully experience RealD 3D.” The lenses are also UV-protective so that they can be worn outdoors to minimize the risk of UV damage. They note that they include styles that can fit over prescription eyewear.