Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Saudi Arabia’s Largest University Begin Collaboration

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and King Saud University’s department of ophthalmology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, are partnering in a new venture to significantly enhance ophthalmic education, clinical services and research activities for students at both universities.

Through a two-year agreement signed at Bascom Palmer on April 3, medical students and residents of KSU, the largest university in Saudi Arabia, will have access to a broad array of training and learning opportunities at Bascom Palmer, and can begin submitting applications for subspecialty electives within the next few months. Bascom Palmer also will host research fellows from KSU in its vision research laboratories.

“It is an honor and a privilege to help create this unique venture,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean, upon signing the document. “It will undoubtedly strengthen the depth of the relationship between our two universities.”

Cosigned by KSU President Abdullah A. Al-Othman, Ph.D., the agreement enables the departments of ophthalmology at both universities to “fast track” innovative research ideas through joint projects and exchange visits.

“This agreement represents the future for our talented students,” Al-Othman said. “The College of Medicine at KSU has competence and excellence across all disciplines of medicine, but our vision is to exceed the current status and achieve mastery at all levels. Our partnership with Bascom Palmer will help us to accomplish that core goal.”

Another key component of the initiative is a master’s degree in ophthalmology and vision science, which is expected to be added to the University of Miami’s graduate programs by the end of 2013. The first of its kind in the country, the program will be open to domestic and foreign university graduates.

Bascom Palmer residents also will benefit from the agreement in that they will be able to select a one-week rotation at KSU as part of an international elective. Additionally, Bascom Palmer clinical and research faculty members will have the option of attending ophthalmology research seminars and basic science lectures and take clinic-related courses at KSU.

David T. Tse, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and the Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in Ophthalmic Plastic, Orbital Surgery and Oncology, who is credited with initiating the agreement, said the Bascom Palmer faculty wanted to find a way to share their educational resources and expertise with KSU and its promising students.

“Through this agreement, we expect the laboratory research experience, mentoring by our world-class scientists, and the overall Bascom Palmer educational environment to provide KSU students with the coherence, breadth, and depth necessary to become the next generation of clinician scientists or thought leaders in ophthalmic research in Saudi Arabia,’’ Tse said. “In the past, our main emphasis was in South and Central America. Now, globalization is upon us, and our next horizon is in the Middle East.”

Bascom Palmer Chairman Eduardo C. Alfonso said the agreement opens new ways to explore and enrich exciting advancements in ophthalmology and vision research. “It serves as a catalyst for nurturing the tremendous potential of many gifted students, and Bascom Palmer is pleased to be part of this important collaboration,” he said.

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