January 19, 2010

Wilmer Eye Institute to collaborate with Saudi Arabian hospital

The Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins Medicine announced last week that it will collaborate in research, education and patient care with the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“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 Peter J. McDonnell, the William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology and director of the Wilmer Institute. “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.”

A major focus of the affiliation will be the training of the next generation of leaders in ophthalmology—the scientists who will be developing new procedures and new treatments for eye diseases that currently are not curable—in both countries and beyond. The Wilmer Eye Institute already has trained more than 100 ophthalmology department chairs in dozens of countries.

Abdul Elah Al-Towerki, executive director of the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital, said, “We are delighted to enter into this affiliation with the Wilmer Institute. 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.”

Several Wilmer faculty members will work at the hospital for extended periods, treating patients, teaching and conducting research. With financial support from the Saudi government, joint research activities will focus on developing treatments for blinding eye diseases, such as diabetic eye disease, that afflict patients living in both countries and around the world. In addition, a new endowed professorship at Johns Hopkins will be established to support the work of Hopkins faculty.

The Wilmer Institute is one of the largest medical institutes devoted to treatment and cure of eye diseases in the United States, with more than 130 full-time faculty members, and is recognized as one of the premier research, training and patient-care facilities in the world.

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