Our Education and Outreach Programme for 2016 kicked off on March 2. Dr Maria Meehan and Caitríona Dunne travelled to Cork for two information events, one in Cork City centre and one in Mallow. These events are designed for people and families affected by vision loss and also members of the public who are interested in learning about Fighting Blindness.
The event in Cork City’s Imperial Hotel was well attended by existing and new members and a broad range of conditions and research was covered. The highlight of the evening was an excellent presentation by Prof Tom Cotter from University College Cork. Fighting Blindness has funded Prof Cotter’s research for a number of years and he has been very successful at leveraging that basic funding to attract much larger grants. In 2014 Prof Cotter received a grant of €1.2 million from Science Foundation Ireland to further his work. His fascinating talk explained some of the promising vision research currently being conducted all over the world in the areas of gene therapy, stem cell therapy, artificial vision and his own area of expertise novel drug therapies. Tom also spoke about some of the more unusual challenges he and his team face during the research process and gave a very insightful view into their work.
The Gilbert Centre was the venue for our Mallow information evening which focused more specifically on genetic retinal conditions. Dr Paul Kenna from the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital and Trinity College Dublin joined the line-up in Mallow and spoke at length about genetics and inheritance patterns for different types of conditions. He also spoke about the Target 5000 research project and the plans that are underway to speed up the processes involved in the project. Paul spoke individually to everyone who attended the event and spent a great deal of time answering questions and concerns.
We are extremely grateful to Prof Tom Cotter and Dr Paul Kenna for donating their time to speak at these events and to everyone who came along in both Cork City and Mallow. We would also like to thank Tony Egan and his family for inviting us to host an event in their local area. We will be visiting a number of counties throughout 2016 as part of our Education and Outreach Programme. If you would like us to hold an information evening in your community, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 6789 004. These events were kindly supported by a grant from the Hospital Saturday Funds.