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Taking Next Steps

Many of you will be familiar with the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) fellowships that support promising young ophthalmologists from low-resource countries with international training. In 2018, the ICO – in partnership with Allergan – also offered a new opportunity: the ICO-Allergan Advanced Research Fellowship. Open to young clinician researchers from all countries, this $50,000 award supports the recipient in continuing their research at an institute of their choice for one year. An esteemed judging panel of clinicians met at the ARVO 2018 meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, to consider the applications, and selected Emilio de Almeida Torres Netto as the recipient of this inaugural fellowship.

“It was a unanimous decision,” says Berthold Seitz, Director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Saarland University Medical Center, Homburg/Saar, Germany, and Director of ICO Fellowships. “Torres Netto truly fulfilled all the criteria; he has published extensively in the field, has numerous conference contributions, and has an excellent research project in keratoconus and corneal crosslinking (CXL).”

Emilio de Almeida Torres Netto with Berthold Seitz, Director of ICO Fellowships.

Torres Netto is currently completing a PhD and Research Fellowship at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, in association with the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He is currently working with his co-tutor and clinical mentor, Farhad Hafezi, on factors influencing the biomechanics of corneal tissue. “It is amazing. I am so thankful to the ICO for this opportunity and to Allergan for supporting it,” says Torres Netto. “I was very happy to find this Fellowship as it is exactly what I need to continue my research.” His aims include investigating the optimal energy dose/irradiation time relationship to maximize oxygen re-diffusion in CXL, effects of temperature on the CXL procedure, as well as changes in corneal biomechanics due to heavy and repetitive eye rubbing. As well as improving CXL and refractive surgery, Torres Netto is also interested in improving crosslinking technologies for low income countries, and is currently involved in a trial studying PACK-CXL for the treatment of infectious keratitis.

Anna Gallifant, Associate Vice President and Head of International Strategic Marketing, Eyecare, Allergan, says: “On behalf of everyone at Allergan, I’m delighted to extend our sincerest congratulations to Dr. Torres Netto. The ICO mission to enhance ophthalmic education and international eyecare echoes that of Allergan’s, and we are proud to partner with them to support their fellowship program and clinician-led research that will help set the standard for innovation and excellence in ophthalmic care.”

Torres Netto will formally receive his award at the upcoming World Ophthalmology Congress (June 16–19, Barcelona, Spain), as well as deliver a presentation on his research.

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About the Author
Ruth Steer
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