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University’s links with Japan strengthened

08 April 2010

Researchers in front of Main Building

International relations have been strengthened between the University and four universities in Japan through a scheme to train talented young vision researchers in developing techniques to predict the onset of serious eye disabilities.

Part of Japan’s efforts to advance research into some of the leading causes of eye problems, Cardiff School of Optometry and Vision Sciences is one of five overseas partners taking part in the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)-funded Institutional Programme for Young Researcher Overseas Visits. The programme aims to develop an international collaborative work on tissue engineering for eye disabilities, such as glaucoma and age-related macular disease.

The initiative will see six postgraduate researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University, Kyoto, Doshisha, and Kumamoto universities spend between two and six months in the School conducting research and receiving training in many aspects of vision research concerned with the cornea, retina, and lens over the next three years. This will include structural biology, cell and matrix biology, and synthetic biology.

The first postgraduate research student, who will arrive in July, is from the Graduate School of Life and Medical Sciences at Doshisha University in Kyoto. Her research will investigate the use of three-dimensional transmission electron microscopy to study cell and matrix changes in corneal wound healing.

The JSPS Institutional Program for Young Researcher Overseas Visits supports Japanese universities and other research institutions to offer undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, research associates, assistant professors, lecturers and other equivalent young researchers opportunities to go abroad to other leading institutions for the purpose of conducting research activities.

Professor Andrew Quantock, Director of Research at the School said: "The programme will develop the ability of these researchers to conduct fundamental studies which can be applied in a clinical setting. Coming to Cardiff will mean that these students get the chance to study in a world-leading research evironment, and alongside scientists who are excelling the field of vision science research.

"The School and our researchers will benefit by working with scientists from top-level Japanese universities, sharing ideas and expertise, as well as forwarding the School’s internationalisation policy."

Professor Shigeru Kinoshita who is Chairman of The Department of Ophthalmology at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and an Honorary Distinguished Professor at Cardiff heads the programme and worked with Professor Quantock to secure Cardiff’s role. He said: "I hope the students will obtain the power to link fundamental research and clinical work. This project must be practical so that doctors give top-level medical knowledge and experience to the public."

A total of 42 Japanese researchers are to benefit from the world-wide programme. International partners in this scheme are Harvard University and UCSD in the USA, the National University of Singapore, and along with Cardiff in Europe, the universities of Lausanne and Erlangen.

In 2009, two Cardiff students spent a month at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and Doshisha University in Kyoto shadowing different specialist clinics at the University hospital such as dry eye, cornea, retina and glaucoma clinics, and this School-sponsored scheme will continue again this summer.

In 2010, the Cardiff School of Optometry and Vision Sciences celebrates 75 years of optics and optometry teaching in Cardiff.

Picture caption:

Professor Noriko Koizumi (third right), with colleagues from Doshisha University in Kyoto with Professor Keith Meek, Head of the Structural Biophysics Group in OPTOM (third left) and Professor Andrew Quantock (second right) in Cardiff last summer. Mayumi Yamamoto (second left) will join the Group in July for a three-month exchange as part of the new JSPS-funded scheme.

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