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Baltimore, Saudi experts team up on eye research

Baltimore, Saudi experts team up on eye research

There's some big news in the world of ophthalmology:

The Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins Medicine  announced a partnership today with the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The eye specialists will collaborate on research, education and patient care.

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"We at the Wilmer Institute have long been interested in the study and cure of blinding eye diseases around the world, and the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital is certainly one of the most impressive eye hospitals outside of the United States," said Dr. Peter J. McDonnell, William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology and the director of the Wilmer Institute, in a statement.

"Working in close collaboration with the excellent experts at the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital, and combining the expertise of our two institutions, will allow for more rapid evaluation of potential new therapies than would be possible with either hospital working alone".

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One major focus for the centers will be training the next generation of leaders in ophthalmology. They hope to develop new procedures and treatments for eye diseases that are difficult or not currently curable, such as diabetic eye disease.

The Wilmer Institute says it has produced more than a hundred chairpersons in departments of ophthalmology around the globe.

"We are delighted to enter into this affiliation with the Wilmer Institute," said Dr. Abdul Elah Al-Towerki, executive director of the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital, in a statement. "We chose the Wilmer Institute because of its commitment to excellence and track record of advancing the field of ophthalmology. Both of our institutions have great strengths, and working closely together in this affiliation will allow us to accomplish more, in a shorter period of time, than we could working alone. This affiliation is supported at the highest levels within the government of Saudi Arabia".

The Saudi government is providing some financial support and several Wilmer faculty members will head over to train in that country. There will also be a new endowed professorship at Johns Hopkins established to support the work.

The internationally known Wilmer Institute has more than 130 full-time faculty and is one of the largest medical institutes devoted to treatment and cure of eye diseases in this country.

The King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital is the largest eye hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and is a top-ranked medical facility in the Middle East.

Baltimore Sun file photo of final construction of the new Wilmer building/Gene Sweeney Jr. 

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