First UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Retina Patient Day a great success
23 May 2012
Patients with retinal degeneration and their
families gathered in London on April 21st to attend the first
UCL/Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology “Retina
Patient Day”. Over 250 attendees had the opportunity to interact with
more than 40 clinicians and scientists from Moorfields Eye Hospital and
UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Department of Genetics, who provided
updates on their research into developing effective treatments for
blinding retinal conditions.
The day began with a series of short talks delivered by the
senior investigators leading the research effort. Professors Robin Ali,
James Bainbridge and Tony Moore were joined by Drs.Lyndon da Cruz, Michel
Michaelides, Rachael Pearson and Andrew Webster in setting out how
laboratory and clinical studies are rapidly enhancing our understanding
of how best to treat inherited diseases that cause blindness.
The researchers delivered informative explanations of how
advances in basic science are gradually being translated into clinical
trials – the audience was told of the progress that was being made but
that further rigorous work was stillrequired in order to develop more
The centrepiece of the “Retina Patient Day” was a unique and
much-appreciated opportunity for the attendees to interact with dozens
of clinicians and scientists, which we arranged in four broad ways:
information stalls, a chance to ‘meet the doctor’, ‘meet the scientist’
and ‘meet the counsellor,’ an artist’s workshop, and most importantly,
over 30 poster presentations explaining our research in terms that
attendees could relate to. The scientists presenting their posters
explained their area of research and how it fits into the broader effort
of seeking therapies for visual disorders; they answered many excellent
questions put to them by the attendees, who were keen to understand
more about their conditions and about the research into treatments.
This opportunity to engage with scientists at the forefront of delivering innovative therapies is not often afforded to people with vision loss, and the interaction proved very welcome.
Comments from participants included:
‘Very enlightening and educational, really delighted this patient day has been put on. Worth travelling from S.Wales!!!’
‘Extremely informative, one to one discussions with the professionals. Definitely will come again’
‘Well organised event with very helpful speakers. Like the poster rooms for specific questions’
‘It’s a great event and a long time coming’.
Attendees were also given an opportunity throughout the day
to submit questions to the lead investigators – these questions covered a
range of topics and were answered by our panel of experts.
Following these fruitful and energetic interactive sessions,
the day was brought to a close with an insight into the work of RP
Fighting Blindness and Moorfields Eye Charity, two of the organisations
whose generous support make the research being discussed (and the
awareness day itself) possible.
The Retina Patient Day 2012 was an excellent opportunity for patients with retinal degeneration and their families to engage with researchers involvedin developing new treatments.
Commenting on the day, Prof. Robin Ali, Head of Department of Genetics and the BRC Gene Therapy Theme leader, said: “The day has been a great success. We aim to hold a “Retina Patient Day” every year. Patient engagement is an essential part of developing an effective translational research programme. Our team not only look forward to further opportunities to explain our work to patients and their families, but to involve and learn from those who may benefit from it in the future.”