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NECO Hosts Annual Global Health Leadership Development Program

This year marked the fourth year of the Global Health Leadership Development Program (GHLDP) at New England College of Optometry, NECO. The program is a collaboration between Wenzhou Medical University (Wenzhou, China), New England College of Optometry (Boston, MA), and SUNY College of Optometry (New York, New York). The GHLDP was held this year from Monday, July 23 through Wednesday, August 1, 2018. NECO hosted nine students for 11 days before the students travelled to SUNY for two additional weeks.

Assistant Professor Meng Meng Xu, OD, FAAO, notes, “The selected students from Wenzhou have excelled academically and demonstrated leadership skills with an interest in developing an appreciation for health and vision care issues in the US.  The goal of this  program is for the students to gain a deeper understanding of health care concerns within the context of cultural, social, economic and public health issues.”

The group was welcomed to NECO by President Howard Purcell and Interim Dean Sandra Mohr. Throughout their time, they participated in lectures and seminars by NECO faculty with an emphasis in public health and visual impairment. They also toured the College, the NECO Clinical Training Center, the NECO Center for Eye Care Commonwealth and Roslindale, as well as MIT and Harvard.  

At the College, faculty members Anita Gulmiri, Lexi Malkin, Frances Rucker, Meng Meng Xu, and Blair Wong presented on topics ranging from scleral lens, public health in Malawi, and myopia to living with visual disabilities and the impact of visual impairment. The group also received an overview of HIPPA, community health centers and and American culture in a health care setting from Dr. Gary Chu and Mr. Richard Goldberg.  

In addition to a busy schedule of lectures and seminars, the group conducted observations at various institutions in Boston including Schepens Eye Research Institute, Perkins School of the Blind, and Community Health Centers, before visiting Bausch and Lomb, Polymer Technology Industries. They received an on-site presentation by Dr. Nicole Ross at Perkins and met with Dr. Alex Bowers at Schepens. Also participating in the program were Ms. Barbara McGinley, Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Joanne Caruso, and Dr. Maureen Hanley.

Every year, the students are asked to complete a public health related project. This year, they presented on the difference between US and China's health care system based on their observation at the health center they have visited. To help them complete the project, small groups spent the day at a community health center to learn more about the relationship between optometry and other health disciplines at these centers. On the final day of the program, the groups presented their research posters and findings from their visits to the Martha Eliot, South Boston, Charles River, and East Boston Community Health Centers.  At the conclusion of the presentations, President Howard Purcell presented the participants with certificates of completion for the first half of the program. Following their time at SUNY Optometry, the program participants will return to Wenzhou Medical School with a better understanding of public health issues and leadership skills and ready to participate as future leaders to help shape change in China’s health care system.


New England College of Optometry, NECO, is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. NECO was founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, and is the oldest continuously operating school of optometry in the United States. NECO prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, leaders, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences.   Through a vast network of clinical affiliations, our students put patient care first, providing vision care to children, older adults, the homeless, and individuals with disabilities through our work in our optical centers, school programs, community programs, community health centers, and VA medical centers.

Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications
phone: 617-587-5722
email: hoogendoorni@neco.edu

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