June 24, 2021
SYDNEY, Australia — James Wolffsohn was named the new Chief Scientist of the International Myopia Institute (IMI); Wolffsohn is taking over for Professor Earl L. Smith following his retirement.
“We look forward to working with Professor Wolffsohn to further the mission of the IMI in advancing research, education, and awareness in myopia to reduce future vision impairment and blindness,” said IMI Executive Director, Dr. Monica Jong. “It is an honor to have worked with Professor Smith over the years, and we are thankful for his service and continued service as an advisory board member.”
Professor Smith is renowned for his groundbreaking research in myopia, in particular emmetropization and refractive development in primate models of myopia. His work in understanding the role of relative peripheral hyperopia, myopic defocus, the role of light levels, and spectral distribution has led to many of the clinical applications we see today in myopia management. Professor Smith recently retired from his faculty position in the College of Optometry at the University of Houston where he was on the faculty for over 40 years, holding many distinguished positions at the University. Professor Smith has won some of the eye care profession’s highest accolades, and he has continuously held grants from the National Eye Institute over 30 years. He is currently Professor Emeritus.
New IMI Chief Scientist Professor Wolffsohn has been a valued member of the IMI advisory board since 2016 and helped to chair the taskforces that developed the IMI whitepapers in 2019 and 2021. Professor Wolffsohn was previously the Head of Optometry at Aston University, Birmingham, U.K., before becoming the Deputy Executive Dean for Life and Health Sciences. He is currently the associate Pro-Vice Chancellor also at Aston University. His research focus is on ophthalmic technology, mainly related to contact lenses, the tear film, and myopia.
“I am honored to have been nominated as Chief Scientist of the IMI,” said Professor Wolffsohn. “After training as an optometrist, some of my earliest research was on accommodative microfluctuations in myopic (compared to other refractive errors) children in Hong Kong. I have observed this field translate from the ‘lab’ to transforming the healthy visual outlook of many children, whilst the increase in myopia and its associated visual risks has reached epidemic proportions in large parts of the world.
“However, as a relatively young area of clinical practice, there is still much to do to nurture and support high quality science and translate this into evidence-based best practice guidelines for clinicians, to enhance the long-term quality of life of future generations. The IMI has brought together the world’s best minds in the field to guide practitioners and influence governments/regulators, and I look forward to continue to work with them.”