For over 25 years, New England College of Optometry (NECO) has developed a longstanding, strong relationship with Wenzhou Medical University (WMU), allowing students and faculty members from both institutions to interact and collaborate. In 2000, NECO and WMU developed a joint MS/OD degree program with WMU in which students from the university earn a master of science and a doctor of optometry degree. WMU offers a 7-year program in Ophthalmology and Optometry that leads to. This medically-based program trains knowledgeable and skilled optometrists in China to educate to assume positions of leadership in the field of medical education and health care systems. Others go on to specialize in optometric research.
As a part of this unique program, NECO sends faculty members from the College to teach courses as WMU. In addition, students at NECO can choose to participate in an external rotation at WMU in their fourth year. Students at WMU present a thesis as part of their graduate program. This year, for the first time, a group of five graduate students at Wenzhou Medical University presented and defended their theses in English.
Dr. Frank Thorn, Professor of Vision Science and Director of the AODP (Accelerated OD Program) at NECO, was one of the five members of the thesis defense committee and attests to how difficult it is for a Chinese speaker to present such complex work in English. He explained, “These impressive theses combined in-depth research with clinical goals. One MS thesis showed the creation of identifiable retinal neurons from adult stem cells; a PhD thesis used new OCT designs and Doppler physics to demonstrate red blood cells moving through 3-D images of retinal blood vessels.”
Shown in photo: PhD and MS candidates (back row), thesis committee flanked by WMU President Lu Fan and Dean Qu Jia (front row)