Bringing eye health to the global scale
By Elizabeth Kleisath. This article was originally published on Waterloo News.
Vision is one of our most dominant senses, and our world is often built around our ability to see. Despite this, the World Health Organization reports that more than one third of people around the world suffer from some form of vision impairment or blindness. Of these estimated 2.2 billion people, at least one billion of these cases could have been prevented or have not been addressed yet. In these statistics, Asia is disproportionally represented, with the largest portions of the populations not receiving the preventative vision care they need.
With the goal of improving the eye health in the region, the University of Waterloo and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have been jointly collaborating to launch the world’s first international research hub for vision science, The Centre for Eye and Vision Research (CEVR) in Hong Kong.
“This groundbreaking partnership showcases the University’s globally recognized excellence in vision health research,” says Charmaine Dean, vice-president, Research and Innovation at the University of Waterloo. “A critical theme especially through the last 18 months of the pandemic is the importance of our global community coming together to drive forward health research. This partnership links tightly to our mission in health and expands our impact beyond our own borders. Fostering international partnerships with accomplished institutions like Hong Kong Polytechnic University accelerates our work in solving complex problems in health care.”
Bob Lemieux, dean of Waterloo’s Faculty of Science, has been closely involved in the development and solidification of this partnership. As a Faculty known to be a global leader in both fundamental and translational research, this partnership will catalyze new discoveries to shape the future of global vision care.
“The launch of CEVR is the result of three years of engagement and development with PolyU and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government via the Health@InnoHK program,” says Lemieux. “Both Waterloo and PolyU have strong reputations for innovative research, and I am confident that advances in eye and vision research that will be made through this partnership will be nothing short of extraordinary."
The CEVR research will address five key areas of eye health: myopia and eye growth, ocular drug discovery and delivery, vision enhancement, tear film and ocular surface, and advanced optometric technology.
Myopia (nearsightedness) is increasing in cases and severity worldwide, however researchers still do not understand its cause. Research in this area will focus on finding methods to slow down, prevent or reverse the progression of myopia in patients.
Current medications for eye health are very limited, with eye drops only treating the exterior surface of the eye and limited options for treating the back of an eye, behind the ocular barriers. Research into this field will look for new methods, designs and drugs that are capable of treating these challenging areas of an eye.
Vision enhancement research will focus on developing new technologies for preserving and enhancing the vision of older adults, who are at a higher risk for experiencing deterioration and vision problems.
A study into tear film will be trying to find new biochemical markers that are indicative of dry eye disease, a disease that is one of the most frequent causes of eye care visits and is two to three times higher in Asian patients.
The final area of research aims to develop, validate and commercialize novel techniques and technology for assessing eye and vision health.
Each of these core research programs brings together researchers from Waterloo’s Faculty of Science and PolyU to encourage collaborative, multidisciplinary solutions to the areas and projects being tackled.
Leading the CEVR are Professor Ben Thompson (Waterloo) as the CEO and Scientific Director, Professor Chi-ho To (PolyU) as the COO and Deputy Scientific Director. Also on the scientific board are Professor Lyndon Jones (Waterloo) and Carly Lam (PolyU). Additional research team members from Waterloo include 17 more faculty members from departments and schools across the Faculty of Science, including Professor Donna Strickland, 2018 Nobel Laureate, who will be leading a project to improve drug delivery to the eye.
“Research conducted within the CEVR has the potential to improve quality of life for millions of people around the world,” says Thompson. “The long-term collaborative relationship between the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Waterloo and the School of Optometry at PolyU forms the core of the centre and our collaborative projects bring together multiple scientific disciplines to tackle the world-wide problem of vision loss.”
CEVR will operate two brand new, state-of-the-art clinical research and bioscience laboratories. The two laboratories support research with patients, drug discovery and biochemistry projects, and provide access to cutting edge clinical and scientific equipment. The Centre for Eye and Vision Research is funded by the Hong Kong Government’s Health@InnoHK initiative.
Keeping Well to Thrive
A message from Organizational and Human Development (OHD).
It's Day 2, the final day of the Keeping Well at Work Conference. Today’s agenda features engaging and practical workshops supporting personal and workplace wellness at 10:30 a.m. and the highly anticipated closing keynote from resiliency and workplace wellness expert, Dr. Robyne Haley-Dafoe on Everyday Resiliency in Ever-Changing Times, at 1:30 p.m. President Vivek Goel will provide the closing remarks to the conference.
Keeping Well at Work may be wrapping up, but we encourage you to continue the conversation around mental health and join Thrive for their upcoming events until November 12. Help build a culture of wellbeing and normalize mental health struggles by joining Mental Health at the Intersections on Thursday, October 21, co-hosted with the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART). The panel will discuss how social determinants of health intersect to form inequities that impact an individual’s mental health and provide recommendations on how we can support others to promote equity. Visit the Thrive website for more information and to register for events.
Registration is still open and is guaranteed to meet your wellness expectations.
Today's Daily Inspiration
It's KW@W Conference Day 2
- Concurrent workshop sessions at 10:30 am
- A healthy lunch break activity at noon
- KW@W’s Closing Keynote, Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, on Everyday Resiliency in Ever Changing Times at 1:30 pm
Registration is still open.
Developing Waterloo's institutional strategy on research data management
A message from the Library and the Office of Research.
The Government of Canada Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy requires the University to create an institutional research data management (RDM) strategy and researchers to implement sound RDM practices. RDM is a key element of research excellence. The Tri-Agency FAQs explain “RDM enables researchers to organize, store, access, reuse and build upon digital research data. RDM is essential to Canadian researchers’ capacity to securely preserve and use their research data throughout their research projects, reuse their data over the course of their careers and, when appropriate, share their data.” The policy is being implemented incrementally, but starting in March 2022, researchers can expect funding opportunities subject to the data management plan (DMP) requirement.
Sponsored by Charmaine Dean, vice-president, research and international, Beth Namachchivaya, university librarian, and Bruce Campbell, chief information officer, the University has created a working group to develop the institutional RDM strategy, including evaluation of our current capacity for RDM, identification of what changes are needed to comply with funder policies and other RDM requirements, and the development of a roadmap to expand institutional capacity for research data stewardship.
The working group wants to hear from a diverse group of researchers and other stakeholders who support the research enterprise. We have engaged consultants, Athenaeum21, to undertake a review of current RDM practices and services. Please reach out to Bruce Muirhead, associate vice-president, research oversight and analysis, or Alison Hitchens, associate university librarian, collections, technology and scholarly communication, if you are interested in participating in interviews or being part of a consultation group. Researchers will be invited to respond to an RDM survey in the new year.
Cybersecurity awareness starts with you
A message from the Information Security Services team.
Every October brings the observance of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Cybersecurity practitioners try to spread the news that any computer user can take simple actions to protect themselves on-line, without the need for experts.
Throughout October, the UW Information Security Services team will be bringing you some simple hints to allow you to be cyber secure.
Up your Duo 2FA game
UWaterloo uses Duo 2-factor authentication (2FA) to protect logins for many systems by requiring you to prove your identity in two ways. You probably use Duo now when you connect to HR or departmental applications. However, if you are using text messages from Duo as one method, your logins are not as secure as they could be. There are weaknesses in the protocols used to transmit text messages.
To increase the security of Duo 2FA, you should install the Duo app on your Android or Apple smartphone and register it as a trusted device. That will allow Waterloo servers to communicate with the app securely. You can find information on enrolling your mobile device at https://uwaterloo.ca/two-factor-authentication/.
Participate now as deadline for Equity Survey approaches
A message from the Equity Office.
To date, over 16,000 students and employees participated in Waterloo’s first Equity Survey, and while there is still time for those who have not yet participated, the window of opportunity is closing.
While the Equity Survey will be an ongoing initiative for Waterloo, the first wave of data collection closes on October 31. Our first demographic report to the campus community depends on every individual, so please consider adding your confidential information as we approach the end of this first wave of data collection. This survey only takes about 5 minutes and can be accessed securely through alerts in Learn and Workday. The same unique link is also being resent to those who have not yet completed the survey.
Check out how your area of campus is doing with the Equity Survey Leaderboard.