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The Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute is developing a world-leading centre of discovery. The institute combines clinical and basic science expertise to advance regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies, with the goal of bringing these technologies to the clinic.
The Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute Is part of the
Krembil Research Institute, based at Toronto Western Hospital, one of six research institutes in the
University Health Network.
Toronto Western Hospital is also home to the largest ophthalmology care centre in Canada, and the Krembil Research Institute, which specializes in treating patients with diseases and injuries to the brain, spinal cord and eyes. Our ongoing partnerships with these clinicians are essential to ensuring that our findings are applied to improve patient care.
In addition, the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute is part of Canada's leading research university, the
University of Toronto. Our program is building capacity in vision research, by training outstanding masters and doctoral students in collaboration with the
Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences. Since 2000, the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute has trained over 220 students, exploring questions in fields from molecular genetics and cell development to social work and rehabilitation.
Vision loss due to retinal dysfunction affects more than 1 in 20 Canadians. The leading causes of blindness are diseases of aging, conditions that cause progressive and irreversible damage. Incidence of these blinding conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), are expected to double in the next 20 years as the population ages. Individuals with impaired vision have significant disabilities, reduced quality of life and higher mortality rates compared to their healthy counterparts. Vision loss also exerts a significant economic burden in Canada, annually costing over $33B in direct and indirect health care costs and lost productivity.
Our program at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute has an opportunity to act.
We bring together remarkable expertise in basic and clinical vision research, an unparalleled student training program, and the support of generous donors. Together, we are developing a world-leading centre of discovery focused on age-related retinal disease and translational science. We will focus our resources on regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies, with the goal of bringing these technologies to the clinic.
In the past 30 years, the practice of ophthalmology has been revolutionized by new surgical and diagnostic tools and new drug development. As remarkable as these tools are, they primarily rely on early diagnosis and intervention to preserve the eye's function. Serious damage to the cells of the retina remains largely unsolved; once these cells are destroyed, vision loss is irreversible. Regenerative medicine offers potential tools to protect and replace damaged cells and restore sight.
The Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this work. The Institute is home to the largest and most comprehensive ophthalmology care centre and vision research institute in Canada. Our established team of basic and clinical investigators, with research interests in areas, such as molecular mechanisms of eye development and disease, photoreceptor transplantation, eye movement, retina imaging and vision rehabilitation, are tirelessly conducting cutting-edge research and developing new treatments for blindness and vision loss. With outstanding wet laboratory facilities located in the Krembil Discovery Tower, researchers and trainees are able to conduct and translate research into clinical care.
Building on these assets, the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute is establishing an integrated multidisciplinary regenerative medicine research centre at UHN. Together, we envision a future without vision loss.
The Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute is the result of partnership building, supported by University Health Network (UHN), the
Vision Science Research Program and the
Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at the University of Toronto.
In addition to providing funding for activities at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, the Vision Science Research Program also funds outstanding master's and doctoral students from across the University of Toronto, who are studying any aspect of vision science. Trainees supported by the Vision Science Research Program are an active part of the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, creating a dynamic and ever-evolving learning environment.
The University Health Network is also in partnership with many hospitals, including our home, the
Krembil Research Institute at Toronto Western Hospital. We benefit greatly from collaborations with other UHN centres, most particularly the
Krembil Brain Institute, the
Schroeder Arthritis Institute and the
McEwen Stem Cell Institute.
Donors committed to the cause of reversing blindness make our work possible. Generous donations by the Krembil family and by Donald K. Johnson have helped shape our institution and are at the heart of our success. With the support from our donors, the Institute is able to train the next generation of highly skilled vision specialists around the world and be the premier ophthalmological teaching hospital in Canada. We continue to work closely with the
UHN Foundation and donors to make cures for eye diseases a reality.
The work of scientists at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute is supported by many organizations and agencies which have acknowledged the scientific excellence of our faculty with peer-reviewed research grants. This includes:
UHN is a preferred place to work and learn. We focus on creating a workplace that is inclusive, respectful and challenging, where trainees can be creative and learn from the top leaders in vision research. Research positions at UHN and the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute are posted on the
UHN website and the
Office of Research Trainees website.
Many trainees at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute are supported by the
Vision Science Research Program. If you are pursuing graduate or post-doctoral studies relevant to vision research, please visit the Vision Science Research Program website to learn more about the opportunities available to you.
Krembil is like a big family. I'm so grateful to work with a collaborative group of vision scientists, share their work and learn from one another.
Working at Krembil means being part of a collaborative and diverse community of scientists that are striving to answer important questions and make a difference in people's lives.
The environment at Krembil is very friendly, everyone is helpful and supportive. There are also lots of opportunities to learn and connect, such as seminars and conferences, where you can learn and work freely.