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EuroVisionNet project successful implemented

Executive Summary

“Visual Impairment and Degeneration: A Road-map for Vision Research within Europe”

Summary Report - 01/03/2008 – 29/02/2012

The project was funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union under contract number HEALTH-F2-2008-200641

The impact on the notable accomplishments of Vision Research and Ophthalmology in clinical and basic research and patient care in Europe are obviously underestimated in comparison to other areas of the life sciences and medicine. This lack of visibility to political decision makers, the general public, private patrons and public funding bodies is detrimental to the European vision community.
To address this issue the European FP7-supported Coordination and Support Action “Visual Impairment and Degeneration: A Road-map for Vision Research within Europe (‘EuroVisionNet’)” aimed to coordinate and consolidate Vision Research activities and policies in order to overcome this national fragmentation.

The main objectives addressed under this action were:

  • Better definition and acceptance of Vision Research within the scientific community
  • Overcome the existing fragmentation of European Vision Research efforts
  • Reduce duplication of research efforts
  • Increase communication between clinical and basic researchers
  • Foster collaborations between academic research and industry
  • Support clarity regarding national and international policy mandates relating to clinical research activities
  • Develop a better educational concept in the vision research community

The main results were:

  • Bringing together the coordinators of European funded research projects
  • Raise awareness for age-related blinding disorders and rare eye diseases, that have a major impact on the European society
  • Development of better Private-Public-Partnerships in Vision Research
  • To stress the importance of professional clinical trials in ophthalmology
  • Round table of the major European ophthalmological societies
  • Importance to disseminate research results, perform professional information policies and the better integration of patient organizations
  • Development of better career paths for young investigators

In summary:

‘EuroVisionNet’ opened a first opportunity to better integrate the European Vision Research and Ophthalmology community. Further steps may be necessary to give this specific field a visibility it deserves according to the societal challenges in the near future.

Summary Description

1 - The Coordinators Meeting

‘EuroVisionNet’ brought together the scientific coordinators and the major actors of research projects concerned with visual impairment and degeneration funded through the European Union research programme FP5 and FP6. The “COORDINATORS MEETING” in Brussels (06-2009) provided an exciting overview of different European funded vision-related research project of the past and present. 16 coordinators exchanged best-practice models and started an interdisciplinary dialogue for future cooperation.

2 -Ageing Eye

A Conference on the “AGEING EYE” was organised and took place in Bonn, Germany, on March 20-21, 2009. World-leading experts in the fields of epidemiology, health economics, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, mechanisms of ageing, and stem cell research met to discuss worldwide causes of blindness, state-of-the-art research of the pathogenesis of the major age-related eye diseases and their socioeconomic impact.

3 - Rare Diseases

‘EuroVisionNet’ in association with the European Science Foundation (ESF) and Foundation Voir et Entendre organized a Conference in Biomedicine entitled “RARE DISEASES: Hearing and Sight Loss”. The Conference was held in Sant Feliu de Guixols (Costa Brava), Spain on November 22-27, 2009. It was chaired by Prof. Christine Petit (Institut Pasteur, Inserm, Paris, France) and Prof. José-Alain Sahel (Institut de la Vision, Paris, France).

The Conference focused on current advances in the research on the relationship between auditory and visual sensory systems. Special attention was paid to the significant progress in understanding the pathogenesis of the hearing and sight loss, and the recent advances in the development of therapeutic approaches.

4 - Public Private Partnerships

To overcome the apparent lack of communication and motivation in the European vision research community that is needed to collaborate with industry and other potential funding and research partners activities to foster “PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS” were implemented. This lack is apparent when evaluating the funding portfolio/sources used to support basic and clinical research activities within European academic and medical institutions. The European vision research institutions must be aware of the benefits of developing private and public partnerships.

5 -Translational Research in Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences in the European Union

The purpose of the White Paper “TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH IN OPHTHALMOLOGY AND VISION SCIENCES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION” is to stimulate the process for translational research between the European Centres and to synergize multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary clinical and translational research. Translational research, usually called “bench to bedside”, applies discoveries generated through basic science research to the development and testing of preventive and treatment interventions and vice versa. Translational research may be seen as a five-phase model of intervention research that is commonly used to describe the continuum of biomedical research, from basic to applied science.

6 - European Vision Summit

To maximize partnership opportunities with existing European societies and national organizations members of 51 national and European societies were invited to participate in the “EUROPEAN VISION SUMMIT”, a 2-day exploratory workshop ‘Towards the Future of European Vision Research’, which took place in Venice on June 16-17, 2008. 26 delegates representing 24 national institutions and European organizations attended the summit. The remaining two attendees were from ARVO (Association for Research, Vision and Ophthalmology) and the National Eye Institute in Washington, DC, USA.

7 - Young Researcher Vision Camp

The “YOUNG RESEARCHER VISION CAMP" was the first of its kind in the field of Vision Research in Europe. It gave young researchers (MSc students, PhD students, and early postdocs) the opportunity to present themselves and their work to fellow researchers and allowed them to build and strengthen personal networks in an international environment. 35 young researchers gave oral presentations and 44 young researchers presented a scientific poster. Apart from presentations and posters, there were two keynote lectures (held by Dr. Dusko Ilic, London, UK and Prof. Craig Smith, Novartis Pharma AG).

8 - European Vision Conferences

The consolidated “EUROPEAN VISION CONFERENCES” in London (27 MAY 2011) and Brussels (22 JUNE 2011) were both well attended and gave a good overview of current and future treatments for blinding eye diseases. The talks incorporated the most recent scientific developments of the post genomic area each presented by a renowned expert of the field. As part of the Consolidated Vision Conferences 2011 within ‘EuroVisionNet’ the suggested strategies should lead to sight-saving treatments, reduce visual impairment and blindness, and improve the quality of life for people of all ages. The conference was implemented under the patronage of Dr. Charles Tannock, MEP.

9 - Consolidating Patient Organizations

“CONSOLIDATING PATIENT ORGANIZATIONS” were divided into four categories:  Europe-focused (retina), international (retina), Europe-focused (vision-related), and international (vision-related). Out of the 103 patients organizations that were located, ten organizations (Europe-focused/retina), three international organizations (retina), and one international organization (vision-related) have submitted completed questionnaires. Newsletters: These articles represent a variety of topics relating to vision:  sleep, autoimmune therapy, corneal cross-linking therapy, and contact lens therapy for high corneal irregularities. These articles are translated into additional languages to be able to reach non-English speaking patient organizations. Patient registry: The progress is as follows: Contacted 132 partners, a Pub-Med search (limitations: 1999-2009, European countries), and involvement of EORTC (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer) Ophthalmic Oncology Group.  From these resources, 500 contacts have been identified.  Of these 500 contacts, 15 nations are included, 49 patient databases have been incorporated, and 299,141 patients are represented. The Directory of Retinal Databases in Europe was successfully implemented.

10 - Publication Of The White Book

“PUBLICATION OF THE WHITE BOOK “A VISION FOR HORIZON 2020 – A European Strategic Roadmap for Vision Research and Ophthalmology”. T.H. Wheeler-Schilling, J. Kremers, E. Zrenner (eds.), Shaker-Verlag, Aachen, 2012, ISBN 978-3-8440-0883-8. Introduced by E. Zrenner, C. Fasser and T. Wheeler-Schilling in the White book “A Vision for Horizon 2020” 75 experts out of twelve European counties (Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, France, Sweden, Austria and Ireland) are covering all relevant subjects of Vision Research and Ophthalmology in order to predict future developments. The White Book aims at convincing the scientific community in Europe that ophthalmology is a discipline not only at the forefront of research but also at the forefront of translation of its scientific results into clinical practice. It should increase enormously the awareness of funding organizations and the concern of politicians about the further development of health and research in Europe concerning especially eye health.

11 - Gateway To Vision Research In Europe

Establishment of the “GATEWAY TO VISION RESEARCH IN EUROPE”. The purpose of the Gateway to Vision Research is to increase the visibility of Vision Research and Ophthalmology worldwide. Target groups are: clinicians, basic oriented researchers, patients and patient organizations, companies, scientific societies, funding agencies, political decision makers on the national and international level, governmental institutions.

Statistics: Page impressions: 8580/m; Visitors 4185/m; Unique visitors 3.376/m (Google Analytics December 2011).

The top 10 countries of visitors (1) USA, (2) Germany; (3) UK; (4) France; (5) Spain; (6) Sweden; (7) India; (8) The Netherlands; (9) Italy; (10) Canada (Google Analytics December 2011). Updates are performed on a daily basis – a respective newsletter on a monthly basis. Since its launch in October 2008 the Gateway to Vision Research has developed itself to one of the most influential web pages in the field.

Partners

  1. Prof. F. Holz / Prof.. H. Scholl,
    University of Bonn, Dept. of Ophthalmology Bonn / Germany
  2. Prof. J. Sahel,
    INSERM / Fondation Voir & Entendre, Paris, France
  3. Prof. J. Kremers,
    University Erlangen-Nuernberg, Erlangen, Germany
  4. Prof. J. Cunha-Vaz,
    AIBILI, Coimbra, Portugal
  5. Prof. C. Grimm / Prof. C. Reme,
    University of Zuerich, Zuerich, Switzerland
  6. Christina Fasser,
    Retina International, Zuerich, Switzerland
  7. Prof. E. Zrenner,
    Institute for Ophthalmic Research, Tuebingen, Germany
  8. Prof. T. Moore,
    Moorefields Eye Hospital London, London, UK

Contact

Coordinator:

Dr. Thomas H. WHEELER-SCHILLING
EUROPEAN VISION INSTITUTE

Rue du Trône 98
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

Phone: +32 2 5480225
E-mail: info[at]europeanvisioninstitute.org

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