The University of Waterloo, in partnership with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, has launched the world’s first international hub for vision science. The Centre for Eye and Vision Research (CEVR) is a joint collaboration between Waterloo and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and follows a 2018 Strategic University Partnership Agreement between the two institutions.

Located in the heart of Hong Kong’s Science and Technology Park, CEVR will bring together leading researchers from around the world to promote eye health and develop new technologies to prevent vision loss and preserve sight among ageing populations. Translating research into commercialization is a key focus of CEVR, as it aims to develop startups to commercialize research while simultaneously creating a sustainable long-term business model for the Centre itself.

“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.”

CEVR is led by Waterloo’s professor Ben Thompson and PolyU’s professor Chi-ho To. Professor Thompson notes that CEVR will focus on five key areas of impact in vision science research: myopia and eye growth, ocular drug discovery and delivery, vision enhancement, tear film, and ocular surface, and advanced optometric technology.

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, including devices for measuring brain activity and two laser laboratories. Its interdisciplinary nature has drawn world-class Waterloo and PolyU researchers across multiple disciplines, including optometry and vision science, physics, pharmacy, chemistry, biology, health technology and informatics, and applied biology and chemical technology.

“We are proud to be partnering with an exceptional institution like PolyU on this critical initiative,” said Bob Lemieux, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo. “CEVR is already bringing the University of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial culture to Hong Kong as the research team tackles the world’s biggest questions in the field of vision science – from discovery to clinical application and on to commercialization.”

Professor David Ho-keung Shum, PolyU’s Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, remarked, “CEVR has been set up as a joint partnership between PolyU and the University of Waterloo. By harnessing the scientific expertise and knowledge transfer culture of both Universities, we are delighted to embark on a journey of innovative research that opens up new horizons for disruptive technology development to address global eye and vision health issues.”

He added that, “The Centre will also strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem on eye and vision research in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, by attracting and connecting prominent scientists, industrial partners and entrepreneurs in this field.”

 The Centre for Eye and Vision Research is funded by the Hong Kong Government’s Health@InnoHK initiative. Established as a series of research clusters, the InnoHK initiative aims to develop Hong Kong as the hub for global research collaboration.

For more details about the Centre for Vision Research, please visit their website.

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