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Neeru Vallabh in clinicARVO is the largest and most respected eye and vision research organisation in the world with members, including Members in Training, nearing 12,000 from over 75 countries. So if you thought the competition to secure a specialist training place with ARVO is tough, you wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, the ARVO Science Communication Training Fellowship (SciCommTF) only appoints 21 Members in Training (MIT’s) each year from a huge amount of entries – for 2018, 11 MIT’s have been appointed from the US and 10 MIT’s have been appointed from around the world.

This year, the UK is being represented by our very own St Paul’s Eye Unit Ophthalmologist and Glaucoma Research Fellow, Neeru Vallabh.  Neeru has been selected to join the “talented and diverse” intake for 2018 as the ARVO select committee felt she had “demonstrated her experience in science communication" and had “a desire to learn more”.

The SciCommTF trains MITs to become more effective communicators of vision research to all audiences. Upon completing the program, Neeru will earn a point toward achieving Fellow of ARVO (FARVO) status and be invited to present as a trainer for next year's class.

"I feel it is important to be able to communicate about research to a variety of audiences, whether academics, clinicians or patients."

Neeru Vallabh

Neeru said: “I am so delighted to have been awarded this opportunity. I am a clinician who has been undertaking laboratory research for the last two years as part of my PhD.  I feel it is important to be able to communicate about research to a variety of audiences, whether academics, clinicians or patients. This includes the charitable organisations, such as the St Paul's Glaucoma Research Fund, International Glaucoma Association and Fight for Sight, that have graciously funded my research. It is important for the charities and their supporters to be able to understand how the money they have donated has helped to advance knowledge about the condition of glaucoma.  

Through my ongoing clinical training I have received formal training on communicating clinical issues to patients and I have put this into practice. However I have not received training on the delivery of scientific information to non-scientists. The science communication training fellowship would provide a structured education, with peer learning, and the ability to put my learning in to practice. The experience I gain will benefit the outstanding work that is undertaken in St Paul’s Eye Unit and Department of Eye and Vision Science, University of Liverpool, on a local, national and international level.”

The 7 other countries represented on the ARVO Science Communication Training Fellowship, including the UK and the US, are Germany, Pakistan, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Australia.