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The SERI Professorship in Ophthalmology Research

The SERI Professorship in Ophthalmology Research has been conferred on Professor Saw Seang Mei, Co-Head of the Myopia Research Group at SERI. She is also Professor of Epidemiology at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Deputy Co-Chair of the NUS Institutional Review Board.

Professor Saw is a pioneer and world leader in myopia epidemiologic research. She has an H-Index of 80 and has published more 550 peer- reviewed international journals, including the Lancet, Nature Genetics and Journal of the American Medical Association. She has sustained large-scale funding as Principal Investigator (PI) and co-PI over the past 20 years. For her recent work, she has grants as PI with $1.4 million from NMRC for research on pathologic myopia, and $1.7 million from A*STAR-Janssen for research on outdoor light and myopia. Amongst prior grants, Professor Saw has received a $1.7 million grant for the Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) for myopia in SCORM in collaboration with Professor Terri Young, which was the highest amount granted for the 2006 BMRC grant call. She has also obtained funding from overseas funding agencies such as the National Health Medical Research Council in Australia as Chief Investigator, National Institutes of Health in the United States as co-investigator and the World Health Organization as PI.

Professor Saw has conducted several large-scale epidemiologic studies in myopia as PI including the 20-year Singapore Cohort Of the Risk factors for Myopia (SCORM) of 1,979 children, the STARS myopia study of 3,009 pre-school children, the 10-year GUSTO myopia study of 900 children and the six-year Xiamen myopia cohort of 600 children. She has also invented a fitness tracker, the FitSight watch to encourage children to spend more time outdoors to prevent myopia. Professor Saw’s research has provided new insights into myopia and have translated into formulating preventive strategies with huge public health significance. As a member of the National Myopia Prevention Programme, Health Promotion Board, Professor Saw has played an instrumental role in public policy by disseminating nationwide public education messages on myopia and providing advice on school outdoor programmes.

Professor Saw is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2019 President’s Science and Technology Team Award for her and her team’s dedicated research spanning more than three decades in the field of myopia. She is also the past Chair of the 11th International Myopia Conference held in Singapore in 2006.

Her contributions and professional standing led to her appointment to several editorial boards. As a mentor, Professor Saw has supervised more than 30 Research Staff, 10 Post-Doctoral Research Fellows, 12 PhD, MSc and Duke-NUS Medical Students. Of which, several have subsequently won numerous awards including the NMRC Transition Award.

The conferment of this Distinguished Professorship is an endorsement of Professor Saw as an outstanding physician epidemiologist and myopia expert who has made major observations and key discoveries in the field of the epidemiology of myopia, characterising the environmental, genetic and anatomical predictors of myopia in children and adults in Singapore and worldwide. Professor Saw will continue to augment the EYE ACP’s current strengths in research by investing in efforts to find affordable solutions to unmet clinical needs, foster greater collaboration and accelerate the translational clinical application from laboratory to patients.