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Student wins prestigious ophthalmology award

Monday 3 June 2013

A medicine student from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry has won the prestigious Duke Elder Undergraduate Prize for Ophthalmology, the study that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye, sponsored by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. Joanna Dilley, who is a third-year medicine student, competed against 522 students from 32 UK and Irish medical schools, a record number of entrants for the Prize. This is the first time for over 30 years that a Barts student has been awarded first place in the Prize.

Two other students from Barts, Mohammed Aamir Ismailijee and Richard Manns, both fifth-year medical students, achieved places in the top twenty, ranking in third and eleventh place respectively. Since the Prize’s inception, over 30 years ago, just eight Barts and the London students have ever featured in the top 20 and none have been in the top five.

The Duke-Elder prize exam, named after the famous Scottish ophthalmologist Sir William Stewart Duke-Elder (1898-1978), is open to medical students who have completed their ophthalmology undergraduate teaching, but it is open to all medical undergraduates provided they have not graduated at the time of the examination. The ninety minute examination focuses on clinical ophthalmology but other areas are also examined including ocular physiology, anatomy and pathology as well as genetics of eye conditions and socioeconomic medicine relevant to ophthalmology, such as blind registration or world blindness.

As winner of the Prize Joanna has been offered the opportunity to visit St John’s Eye Hospital in Jerusalem – one of the most prestigious eye hospitals in the world. The hospital was established in 1882 and is the only charitable provider of crucial eye care to the people of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

Joanna spoke about her achievement: ‘I've been touched by the amount of recognition I've received from lecturers, clinicians and other students. It's also fantastic that there are three Bart’s students in the top 20, it reflects the high level of teaching and student ability at Barts, plus it's a great feeling to do so well on the university's behalf.’

‘I'm so excited about the opportunity to visit St Joseph's Eye Hospital in Jerusalem in August. It’ll be an incredible experience.’

Paola Domizio, Professor of Pathology Education and Chair, of the Prizes Committee for School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: ‘This year’s achievement by Joanna, Aamir and Richard is nothing short of astonishing. This reflects extremely well on the calibre of the ophthalmology teaching at Barts and The London as well as on the strength of our students in the face of fierce competition. The entire medical school is very proud of their achievements and we wish them every success in their future careers.’

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