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Rising Star: Li Lian Foo

Credit: Image supplied by Li Lian Foo

Li Lian Foo studied chemical engineering before she decided to embrace medical school and ophthalmology. In 2019, she enrolled at the MIT-Harvard Medical School Healthcare Innovation Bootcamp where, after a competitive round of interviews, she was selected as one of 70 participants from over 2000 applications.

Since completing her ophthalmology training, Foo has been heavily invested in researching and attempting to tackle childhood myopia management – a major issue in Singapore, where almost 80 percent of the current population is myopic. She is currently focusing on various childhood myopia control modalities, and how each of the different combinations of control modalities can help to slow down the rate of myopia progression in children. “Our main aim is to prevent high myopia amongst children in order to prevent potentially blinding-related complications later on in adulthood,” Foo explains. “This is one of our utmost priorities at this point in time, considering the prevalence of high myopia is increasing and projected to affect 10 percent of the world's population.”

Foo has published papers on a diverse range of subjects, from the use of deep learning systems in pediatric fundus imaging to predict high myopia risks to the application of artificial intelligence in cataract management. She has also co-authored two highly successful ophthalmology study guides: Practical Guide to VIVA and OSCE in Ophthalmology Examinations, and Fundamental OSCE Guide in Ophthalmology. She is the first Myopia fellow in the whole of Singapore, based at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), an institute providing specialist eye care to over half of the country’s public sector. SNEC is one of the few global institutions that continue to record every single major operation it carries out to ensure the highest standard of surgical monitoring and patient outcomes.

Now, Foo’s main goal is to find novel myopia solutions and treatments to curb myopia. As an aspiring clinician innovator, she hopes to use her skills – fueled by her combined engineering and medical background – and her passion to improve clinical care across Singapore with the aim of bridging the bench-to-bedside gap. Rapidly evolving technology is the key to achieving this, she says. “In my opinion, telemedicine and remote monitoring will likely become integrated in patient care, and this will ensure broader access to specialized treatment. I also feel that the breakthrough in AI, regenerative medicines, and even gene therapy can offer us unprecedented potential in terms of treating eye diseases.”

Recommending Foo as a Rising Star, The Ophthalmologist’s two-time Power Lister, Seang-Mei Saw, Distinguished Wallace Foulds Professor, told us, “I have had the privilege of mentoring Li Lian and have been consistently impressed with her dedication, intellect, and enthusiasm… I have no doubt she will continue to excel in her research endeavors in myopia and translate her findings to improve the outcomes of myopic children. I look forward to Li Lian’s continued contributions in the prevention and management of myopia to combat the worldwide myopia epidemic.”


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About the Author
Li Lian Foo

Li Lian Foo, MIT-Harvard Medical School Healthcare Innovation Bootcamp, childhood myopia management, Singapore, pediatric fundus imaging, Practical Guide to VIVA and OSCE in Ophthalmology Examinations, Fundamental OSCE Guide in Ophthalmology, Singapore National Eye Centre, SNEC, Power List, Seang-Mei Saw.

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