NEW YORK, NY (May 2010) -- The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary is host to an attending physician from Beijing Institute of Ophthalmology, Tongren Eye Center, Beijing Tongren Hospital, Ruojin Ren, MD, PhD, who received one of only two ARVO/Pfizer Collaborative Research Fellowships awarded annually to promising investigators in ophthalmology.
She is studying with Robert Ritch, MD, Shelley and Steven Einhorn Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology, Surgeon Director and Chief, Glaucoma Services, at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and is working on research related to the Exfoliation Syndrome.
“Exfoliation syndrome is the most common identifiable cause of open-angle glaucoma worldwide, comprising the majority of glaucoma in some countries, said Dr. Ritch. “Exfoliation is also associated with a number of systemic disorders such as transient ischemic attacks, myocardial infarction, Alzheimer’s disease and even hearing loss. It is therefore especially important that an international scholar can collaborate in research which may have such universal implications.”
For her part, Dr. Ren feels honored to have been chosen for the ARVO/Pfizer fellowship and the professional opportunity it presents. “New York Eye and Ear Infirmary has a worldwide reputation,” said Dr. Ren. “The level of academic research and technology is most advanced, and I have a supportive mentor, Professor Ritch, who is famous in his field.”
Dr. Ren thanked the entire glaucoma research team at NYEE for their welcoming assistance. Additional acknowledgements to Liang Xu, MD, Head of Beijing Institute of Ophthalmology, who gave her this valuable application chance, Ning Li Wang, MD, PhD, Chairman of Tongren Eye Center, who supported this Exfoliation Syndrome collaborative research, Jost Jonas, MD, from Heidelberg University, Germany, and Prof. Bin Li and all of relative directors of Beijing Institute of Ophthalmology, Beijing Tongren Hospital facilitated her participation in this endeavour.
Both New York Eye and Ear and Beijing Tongren Eye Center are historic hospitals and high volume providers of specialty care throughout their respective regions, although there is not yet much research on exfoliation in China. “It is an important syndrome to study because of its effects on all parts of the body, and there is a need for internationally recognized criteria.” Dr. Ren said. “My dream is to be a bridge between our two hospitals, and create similar quality research and standard of training there.”
A highlight of the fellowship year has been the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting, and ability to communicate research and meet face-to-face with experts from all across the US and around the world.
At the 2010 Pfizer Collaborative Research Fellowship Meeting were award recipients and mentors including, from left to right: Dr. Jost Jonas, Dr. Robert Ritch, Joanne Angle - Executive Director of ARVO and AFER, Dr. David Sullivan (Dr. Sahin's collaborator), Tracy Valorie - Pfizer, Dr. Ruojin Ren, Dr. Afsun Sahin (the other ARVO/Pfizer recipient), and Robert Besthof – Pfizer.
Exfoliation syndrome (XFS) is characterized by production and accumulation of a fibrillar extracelluar material in ocular tissue. Persons with XFS have 6-8 times the chance of developing glaucoma as those without it, and XFS is also a cause of cataracts as well as a number of systemic disorders. It is one of the major areas of investigation by Robert Ritch, MD, and The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and is considered the first major glaucoma that can be potentially reversible or even curable.
Offered through the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and supported by a grant from Pfizer, Inc., the highly competitive fellowships are awarded each year to two promising international investigators in ophthalmology for collaborative projects between US and non-US researchers from economically emerging countries.
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