By Martine J. Jager, MD, PhD, FARVO, past president of ARVO, Chairman of the ARVO International Chapter Affiliate Council
Originally published in the Summer/Fall 2011 issue of
This year, I was invited to attend meetings by several of ARVO's international chapter affiliates, which was (again) an exhilarating experience.
When I started to discuss the possibility of having a Chinese ARVO chapter with Dr. Li Xiaoxin, then president of the Chinese Society of Ophthalmology, she was already considering having a basic science meeting. This meeting has been developed in association with ARVO, in order to develop a scientific meeting that is educational for young researchers.
In April 2011, I attended the third Chinese Congress of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Chongging and was flabbergasted. Several superb international speakers such as Steve Ryan, MD, FARVO, of the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles and James Morgan, DPhil, of the University of Cardiff had been invited, and the leaders of ophthalmology in China presented educational lectures. These included titles such as "Innovative thinking results in technological advances," or discussed new developments in amblyopia, myopia or diabetic retinopathy.
But the best was the presence of hundreds of young eye researchers who presented their own work. I had the pleasure of organizing a workshop about getting one's paper published. The energy and enthusiasm that effused from the young researchers was amazing.
My only problem was that my lack of Chinese regrettably did not allow me to follow the presentations, and I hope that next time, more presentations will have the slides showing data with English captions so that visitors can also understand. This would also be very good practice for these researchers if they attend meetings outside China.
Soon after, we had the Netherlands chapter meeting, ARVO-NED, with an educational meeting on pathology and anatomy. It was our good fortune to have Greg Hageman, PhD, FARVO, of the John Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City open the meeting with a great lecture about inflammation and age-related macular degeneration. Other subjects were stem cell research and imaging, suitable for any young Dutch researcher working on an ophthalmological problem.
Subsequently, I attended the South-East European (SEE-ARVO) chapter meeting held in association with the annual meeting of the Union of Bulgarian Ophthalmologists in Borovets, Bulgaria. A very nice international symposium was put together by the SEE-ARVO president, Petja Vassileva, MD, and was followed by an educational day for residents. The qualityof the meeting was very high, and it was great that — thanks to the support of Allergan for the residents day and Alcon for the ARVO-Chapter educational grant — many young people could attend.
Another approach was taken at the collaborative meeting of the Hungarian and Austrian chapters: youngsters from the two different countries gave presentations on their research projects, in the style of an ARVO symposium.
These presentations were in English, and I want to compliment Suzanne Binder, PhD (Rudolf Eye Center in Vienna), Guenther Grabner, MD (University Eye Clinic, Salzburg) and János Németh, MD, PhD, Dsc (Semmelweis University) on a very good meeting.
These different meetings show the variety of ARVO-related activities happening around the world. But the thing they have in common is they stimulate eye research by young investigators locally.
It is fascinating to see these meetings' common characteristic: the enthusiasm for research from supervisors and students alike, and the great desire of the youngsters to produce excellent work that will allow them to go to international meetings such as ARVO and EVER. Several students won travel grants to ARVO or EVER, but the competition was tough.
The meeting in Austria ended literally on a high note, as it was held in the city of Mayrhofen in the Zillertal of Tyrol, and we had a chance to take a hike in the Alps. It was beautiful spring weather, with flowers everywhere and the first overenthusiastic cows on the mountains. To me, the scene was symbolic of the hopes and bright futures of young eye researchers.