St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, in collaboration with Hadassah Medical Organization, has received a €500,000 grant from the European Union to establish a genetic research unit to serve the Palestinian communities.
St. John, established in 1885, has built a reputation for fine ophthalmic care in the region. The primarily Palestinian population that it serves faces many health challenges, not the least being serious eye disease, much of it driven by the very high incidence of consanguineous marriages.
The main missions of Peace in Sight are to:
· Train a Palestinian ophthalmologist from St. John at Hadassah in molecular genetics and clinical management
· Study in depth 100-200 Palestinians with hereditary eye diseases to identify the most common ones
· Establish a fully functional Genetic Disease Laboratory at St John
· Collect samples from recruited Palestinians and identify the most common genetic patterns of inherited ocular diseases in the Palestinian population
· Provide counseling for prevention of disease transmission
· Explore novel treatment modalities, including gene and cell-based therapies
· Increase awareness of targeted beneficiaries on an individual basis and
· Facilitate access or travel permits with the Israeli Civil Administration.
The grant of €500,000 for the three-year Peace in Sight project constitutes approximately 80 percent of the total project cost. Hadassah Australia is seeking to raise $50,000 to assist with the remainder. Toward that goal, Hadassah Australia recently held a luncheon at the RANZCO (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists) Conference to raise awareness and funds for Peace in Sight, which brought in over $10,000 for the project. Follow-up letters have also been sent out to ophthalmologists who could not attend to raise additional funds.
Ron Finkel, President of Hadassah Australia, reports: “We will be pursuing this campaign through the first quarter of 2017, culminating with the visit to Sydney in late March by Prof. Koby Pe’er, head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Hadassah.