F Y EYE - The Official Newsletter of SUNY State College of Optometry
SUNY State College of Optometry
Issue 7 April 2008
FR O M   T H E   P R E S I D E N T

President's Letter

President David HeathMany of our College's efforts and much of our identity is enveloped within the concept of community.  We serve communities through patient care, public service and research.  We are a community of care providers, students and scholars.  While communities (including our own) are being increasingly stretched for resources due to economic decline, both nationally and locally, and while we need to adjust to short-term constraints, we are fortunate in being able to embrace a positive view of our long-term future.
While we are being confronted with decreases in our operating budgets, I am pleased to be able to share with you that in the recently approved New York State budget, the College of Optometry was provided with $6.7 million for capital investment for our strategic priorities over the next several years.  (This is in addition to funding for critical maintenance projects.)  The allocation includes $4.5 million for the re-design and rehabilitation of the College's second floor which is currently student life space, and $2.2 million for improvements to our clinical care facility, the University Optometric Center.
It is important to appreciate the impact of this support.  The College's Master Plan (2007) called for the development of a multi-functional college center which ultimately encompasses the south side of the 2nd and 3rd floors of our 42nd Street campus, creating a hub of activity, or "heart" of the institution.  This support, combined with prior commitments for the renovations on the 3rd floor, allows us to proceed with a comprehensive project, encompassing the 2nd and 3rd floors, through an integrated and cohesive process.  The result will be a new Campus Center for Student Life and Learning designed to encourage a sense of place, a sense of community and the intellectual exchange of ideas.
In addition to common space, the Campus Center will include an integrated series of teaching spaces with the technological capacity to support the College's new curriculum, pedagogical innovation, and extended educational programming to our clinical affiliates and global partners.
This month, FY EYE also shares with you the appointment of our new Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. David Troilo; superb performances by our students on their licensing exams; and the highest number of applications in the history of the College.
While there are significant challenges ahead and fiscal restraint is a part of our daily conversations, I think you will agree there are many positive indicators at hand.
David A. Heath, O.D., Ed.M.
M A I N   F E A T U R E

President Heath Names New Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. David TroiloAfter a long and extensive search, Dr. David Troilo is named the SUNY College of Optometry's next Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs.  Dr. Troilo, a Professor of Biology in the Department of Biomedical Science and Disease at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, comes to SUNY with extensive experience in optometric education and research.  He currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies and Chair of the Faculty.  Also a member of New England's Board of Trustees, Dr. Troilo has taught, for the past fourteen years, in both the professional and graduate degree programs which includes teaching in both the basic and clinical sciences.
Dr. Troilo received his Master's and Ph.D. degrees from the City University of New York and his B.A. from SUNY Oswego.  His post-doctoral studies at Oxford University and Cornell University.  An internationally known researcher in myopia, accommodation and the development of refractive error, Dr. Troilo has over 100 publications, holds two major grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and has received continued funding from NIH since 1955.
The position of Vice President is responsible for the overall administration, coordination and development of instructional policies, programs and faculty.  In addition the position oversees the curriculum implementation, research activities, program assessment, budget and planning.
Dr. Heath worked extensively with Dr. Troilo in the past.  He is confident that in addition to Dr. Troilo's wealth of experience that he will also bring to SUNY a commitment to excellence and a personal style that will help assure the achievement of our mission, the quality of our educational and research programs, and the success of our students.
Congratulations and a warm welcome to David Troilo, Ph.D. on his appointment as Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs.
Dr. Troilo will assume his position effective July 1, 2008 and will hold the rank of Professor.
F O C A L   P O I N T

Partners for Sight Foundation Supports SUNY Homebound Program

The Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation has awarded the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY) a $25,000 grant in support of expansion of the Homebound Program into the borough of Queens this Summer.  The initiative will provide much-needed vision care to underserved patients throughout the borough in the coming year.  This is a first-time grant from the Foundation.
The Homebound Program, begun by the College more than 25 years ago, sends optometrists into local neighborhoods in order to provide high quality patient care for people confined to their homes.  Most recently, homebound services have been provided solely in Manhattan.

The new grant will offer access to essential services for people with impaired sight who are at risk for increased falls and fractures, depression and difficulty identifying medications, which can lead to serious drug-related errors among other dangers.  Homebound populations, particulary at risk, include older adults, people with multiple disabilities and/or other health conditions (e.g., stroke, cancer, obesity, paralysis and dementia), which can make it challenging, if not impossible, to access available health services in the community.

"Our goal is to promote independent and productive living for people with impaired sight.  Addressing the vision care needs of the homebound population will help improve quality of life, and provide a safer home environment", said Susan Olivo, Vice President and General Manager of the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation.

"We are delighted that our new alliance with the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation will enable us to further extend essential patient care services into local communities", said Richard Feinbloom, President of the OCNY Board of Trustees.

Partners for Sight is dedicated to increasing the self-reliance and dignity of blind and visually-impaired persons.  Their belief is that individuals should have the tools and resources necessary to lead independent, productive lives.  Through their support of non-profit organizations that share this philosophy, they are making the world easier to navigate for thousands of people, every day.

The Optometric Center of New York is the allied and endowing foundation of the College and the primary source of private support for its patient care facility, the University Optometric Center.  It provides grants for projects such as a homebound initiative, indigent care and scholarship funding, among others.
DI D   Y O U   K N O W ?
  • For the class entering in the Fall of 2008, the number of applicants for 75 seats in the professional Doctor of Optometry Program exceeded 600 for the first time in the history of the College.  This represents an 8:1 applicant to seat ratio.
  • Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the graduating Class of 2008 passed the Part II Clinical Sciences section of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry on their first attempt this past December.
  • The University Optometric Center serves the needs of Manhattan's homebound elderly, providing approximately 125 in-home visits each year.

Dr. Kenneth Ciuffreda Honored at NORA

Dr. Kenneth Ciuffreda, Professor in the Department of Vision Science, was awarded the William M. and Diana P. Ludlam Educator's Award at the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) meeting earlier this month.  The award is given either to an individual educator or an institution best exemplifying the commitment to serving the students and the patients in neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

Lynn Trieu '09 Receives AOF-Carl Zeiss Vision Fellowship

Lynn TrieuCongratulations to Lynn Trieu '09 on receiving the AOF-Carl Zeiss Vision Fellowship.  The award includes $5000 for financial aid that is sent directly to the College and a check for $750 to cover travel expenses to the American Academy of Optometry meeting (AAO) during her fourth year and the first year after graduation.

Sponsored by Carl Zeiss and administerd by the AOF, the fellowship honors outstanding achievements by a third-year optometry student from each school and college of optometry and with the purpose of encouraging students of optometry to pursue full-time careers in independent optometric practice and leadership.

SUNY Gala Honors Elias and Gangolli

Julian Gangolli, David Heath, Richard EliasTwo prominent ophthalmic industry leaders were honored at the annual "Eyes on New York" Gala on April 11, during Vision Expo East.  Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York, the foundation of the College, the gala, held in the famous Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center, paid tribute to Richard Elias, President of Transitions Optical and Julian Gangolli, Corporate Vice President and President of North America Pharmaceuticals for Allergan.

More than 300 people attended the annual fundraiser which supports vision care for the homebound elderly and indigent, as well as scholarships and vision science research.

R. Michael Daley, President of Essilor of American and Ed Greene, President of the Vision Council of America served as Corporate co-chairs.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez Receives AOA Health Care Leadership Award
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) was recognized for providing important leadership on health Carson Wong '09, Dr. David Dexter, Hannah Kim '11(UMSL), Lynn Trieu '09, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Dr. Andrea Thau (AOA Trustee), Dr. David Heath, Dr. and Mrs. David Dozackcare policy issues by doctors of optometry from her district and their national organization, the 34,000 member American Optometric Association (AOA).  The award was presented to her during the AOA"s annual Congressional Advocacy Conference held April 7-9 in Washington, D.C.  Optometrists in New York and the AOA are working to pass legislation before Congress designed to safeguard sight, promote healthy vision among school-aged children and to ensure access to much-needed primary eye and vision care.
With support from Rep. Velazquez, the AOA-backed Vision Care for Kids Act (HR 507) was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 16, 2007.  HR 507 would establish a federal grant program aimed at bolstering children's vision and learning initiatives developed by the states.

Graduate Program

Consistent with the professional program, the graduate program is currently undergoing a curriculum revision for full-time Ph.D. students focussed on tutorial based learning.  Aspects of the OD/MS and OD/PhD programs are also being reviewed.
There are currently seven full-time graduate students and offers of admission into the graduate program have been sent to seven applicants for this Fall.  In addition, there are 28 students in the OD/MS program. 

Meet Benjamin Backus, Ph.D.

Dr. Ben Backus, the newest member of the College's Department of Vision Sciences, Dr. Benjamin Backusjoined the College this past September.  In 1997, he earned his Ph.D. in Vision Science at the University of California, Berkeley, College of Optometry where he was a teaching assistant for binocular vision and anatomy of the eye and orbit.
Dr. Backus' research focuses on perceptual learning, stereoscopic depth perception and motion perception.  One of his current projects involves trainees viewing stimuli where a new visual signal (such as an object moving up or down) is put into correlation with trusted visual cues for depth (such as binocular disparity).  After training, a new signal acts like a cue showing that the visual system is able to learn from, what is essentially, a Pavlovian (classical) conditioning paradigm.  His belief is that these learning mechanisms are common and that they are important for keeping normal vision accurate and for the recovery of visual function after trauma.  Dr. Backus is excited by the new research opportunities available to him at the College.  Its experienced clinical practitioners and access to patients with vision problems, in addition to its renowned vision therapy clinic, he says, is the ideal environment to conduct this research.
Before attending graduate school, Dr. Backus was a high school math teacher in Oakland, California.  During his graduate studies, his advisor was Dr. Martin Banks.  His post-graduate studies involved using fMRI at Stanford University with Dr. David Heeger now at NYU.
He recently finished work on a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) titled "Cue reliability and depth calibration during space perception".  In addition, he has grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Human Frontier Science Program.  He has two post-doctoral scientists, Dr. Jeremy Wilmer and Dr. Peter Scarfe and, has two students in the OD/MS program working towards their Master's of Science degrees - - Kelly Chajka and Ben Meade.
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