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AODP Student Wins Dr. Norman E. Wallis Award for Highest Score on National Test

Juan Ding, AODP 2017, was recently named the 2016 recipient for the Dr. Norman Wallis Award for Excellence. The award honors the legacy of Dr. Wallis and his service to the National Board for over 25 years. Juan Ding was selected as the recipient after receiving the highest score in the country for the NBEO test, Part 1. She will be honored for her accomplishments at the annual AOA meeting in Boston this June and presented the award by NBEO President William B. Rafferty.

Juan Ding is a member of New England College of Optometry’s AODP Class of 2017. The Accelerated Optometric Degree program is an accelerated 27 month OD program designed for medical doctors and/or scientists who wish to become doctors of optometry. 

Dr. Frank Thorn, Director of the AODP program, explains that Juan Ding is not the first AODP student to achieve the highest score on the NBEO, Part I test, noting the caliber and achievement of the AODP participants.  Compounding this achievement is the fact that Juan Ding took the exam early, completing the first part of the board exam after only 13 months in the OD program.  Traditionally AODP students take the test at the end of the summer while students in the traditional four-year program take the test in their third year. 

Juan Ding credits a great curriculum and teachers for this accomplishment, but her professors credit her hard work, experience, and skill.  “Most people who work with Juan do not know all of her accomplishments,” explains Thorn. “They just know she is a high energy, conscientious, highly involved student whom everyone enjoys working with.”

Before coming to New England College of Optometry, Juan Ding graduated from Tsinghua University, a highly regarded university in China. She went on to receive her PhD and first post-doctoral appointment in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Ohio University. She then went to the Dr. David Sullivan’s lab at the Schepens Eye Research as a post-doc. Eventually, Ding moved to Harvard Medical School as an instructor and investigator after being awarded a grant from NIH.

Ding has published more than 20 research articles, a book chapter, and three journal editorials. Her most recent work involved corneal physiology and the dry eye syndrome.

Thorn notes, “I met Juan and talked to her mentor at Harvard before she applied to the College. I knew from the beginning she would be a prized member of our student body. NECO is proud to have such an exceptional talent among its students.”

Although initially focused on cellular biology, Ding became interested in optometry and eye disease through her work at Schepens. Upon learning about the unique AODP program, she decided to pursue her OD degree at New England College of Optometry. As she completes her first year, she looks forward to beginning her clinical rotations and continuing to learn more about ocular disease, vision therapy, and the applications of research to clinical practice. 

About the National Board of Examiners in Optometry

The National Board of Examiners in Optometry was established in 1951 as a private non-profit to develop, administer, score, and report results of examinations for optometrists that assess their competence.  The NBEO provides state regulatory boards test results to utilize in licensing optometrists to practice. The NBEO states on their website, “Licensure is a public interest, public protection regulatory function of many professions, particularly in the health professions, due to the importance of receiving competent care. In serving the public and the profession for 54 years, and the National Board has compiled a distinguished record of accomplishments that include being the first national board among the doctoral level health professions to eliminate grading-on-a-curve, and one of the few national boards in any profession with a repertoire of examinations that includes conventional multiple-choice tests, a computer-based test, and a clinical skills test with live patients.”

About New England College of Optometry

New England College of Optometry is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. Located in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, New England College of Optometry is the oldest college of optometry in the country. This small, independent graduate institution has been advancing optometric education, patient care, and public health since 1884.  The New England College of Optometry is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) of the American Optometric Association (a member of the Council of Post-Secondary Accreditation) and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. (NEASC).

Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications
phone: 617-587-5722