Our The Ophthalmologist Power List 2020 series continues with an interview with Prof. Dr Jorge Alio, Professor and Chairman of Ophthalmology, University Miguel Hernandez, Alicante, Spain, and founder of Vissum Corporation, Spain, and the Jorge Alió Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness. In this interview, he reveals his motivations, the most rewarding aspects of his career and his views on the future of ophthalmology.
Q: What motivated you to become an ophthalmologist?
While I was in my fifth year of medical school in Madrid, I had a grant from the American Medical Association to visit the South Western Medical University in Texas. There I met an ophthalmologist who was very friendly because he loved Spanish culture. During the time I spent with him, I saw the independence that ophthalmology has in terms of diagnosis and applications. An ophthalmologist could go from initial clinical diagnosis to specialised exams, through to surgery and the final solution for the patient. I love the idea of being involved in the entire process of treating patients. Until that moment, I had been oriented towards neurology, but then I decided to change the path of my future career.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your career so far?
The most rewarding part of my career was that of building up an academic department in parallel with a clinical department. To integrate both, in terms of patient assistance, medical research, translational research, innovation and academic activities were indeed from the very beginning the top aim of my career. Jointly with that, later on, we started a humanitarian project in Mauritania, which has become our extension, to assist those who have a total lack of access to ophthalmology services. The whole project, throughout its different stages, has been rewarding for me. I could do exactly what I wanted to do vocationally.
Q: What developments are you most excited to hear about in 2020–2021?
It is difficult say during these difficult times in which COVID-19 is impacting our economies, societies and clinics. It is impossible to foresee how much of a negative effect this will have on our activities. However, I am sure that the future is regenerative surgery. Our capability to regenerate tissues from stem cells, to treat ageing by cell therapy substitution, to treat disease by cell and genetic substitution, makes me excited about a new level of medicine. Beyond that in ophthalmology, I really think that the immediate accessibility of accommodative lenses is the next stage in cataract and lens surgery, as they will substitute multifocal lenses. In cornea, we have already published the first clinical trial on corneal stromal regeneration using autologous stem cells successfully. The corneal endothelium is going to be substituted soon. In retina, proteomics and genomics are going to change the fate of patients with retinal disease.
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Published: 15 May 2020
Prof. Dr Jorge Alio is Professor and Chairman of Ophthalmology, University Miguel Hernandez, Alicante, Spain, and founder of Vissum Corporation, Spain and the Jorge Alió Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness. He is a high-volume surgeon in cataract, cornea and refractive surgery with over 50,000 surgeries performed. His main research interests include lens, refractive and corneal surgery. He is a pioneer in the area of multifocal, accommodative and toric intraocular lenses (IOLs), excimer laser refractive surgery, phakic IOLs and corneal regeneration surgery. He has authored over 581 peer-reviewed papers, 376 chapters and 94 books and is extremely active at congresses with lectures and courses. Prof. Dr Alio has a 2020 Hirsch factor (h-factor) of 64 (Scopus); LXIII chair of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, XLIX chair of the European Academy of Ophthalmology, member of the American Ophthalmological Society, member of the Board of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons and has received over 103 international and national awards. He is the creator and Director of the online course Scientific Methodology in Refractive, Cataract and Cornea Surgery (University Miguel Hernandez). Fellows from all over the world come to his research facilities to be trained under his supervision. Prof. Alio has been recently acknowledged by Expertscape (www.expertscape.com) as number 1 in refractive surgical, cataract extraction, cornea, anterior eye segment, intraocular lens implantation, ophthalmological surgical procedures, and number 2 in refractive errors, visual acuity, laser corneal surgery, laser therapy and LASIK.