Q&A with Yi Pang, OD, PhD, FAAO
No department on campus has grown as quickly as our research department over the past few years. This is in large part due to Dr. Yi Pang's vision. Through governmental and corporate research grants, ICO is currently conducting over 90 studies. This will only expand with the coming of the new Dr. Newton K. Wesley Research Center. Dr. Pang discusses advances in research and the newly founded research center.
What’s one thing that you would want people to know about your specific field?
ICO has always had an incredibly strong clinical program, but our research reputation was not as strong. Still, the most important element, an amazing patient population, has always been there.
Our patients are fundamental to who ICO is, and we were able to expand our research because of them. When I arrived at ICO in 2005, we had never taken part in an NIH-funded clinical trial, now we’ve completed over 20. It was a lot of hard work implementing best practices within research. Luckily, our institution and ICO leadership have always supported research. I have always felt that at ICO, you are empowered to make important and necessary changes. It was slow going in the beginning, but we have sped up immensely in the past few years. A little more than ten years since I arrived, we have more than 90 active studies, and in one year alone, we doubled the number of student presentations at the American Academy of Optometry. It’s amazing to see just how robust our research has become. Faculty, residents, students – they all have opportunities to do research. Because of our patient population, we can focus on the specialties that interest them whether that’s glaucoma, cornea and contact lenses, or myopia control.
How has ICO changed since you arrived at ICO? And what has remained the same?
The biggest change for me is what we have accomplished in research. ICO is being recognized throughout the country for its high-quality research. Our students have received awards from many prestigious organizations. We are competing against other optometry schools and larger public health schools, and even against these larger schools we stand our ground; we’re still being recognized.
What’s remained the same is the faculty commitment. I feel a strong dedication to ICO. That’s in large part because of the faculty and staff at ICO. Whenever I ask a faculty member to do something extra in research, I have never gotten a “no.” Most of the research faculty members conduct at ICO is not something already set on their schedule, it’s an extra ask and it’s a lot of hard work. The dedication from our faculty amazes me daily.
How will the Dr. Newton K. Wesley Research Center help expand research at ICO?
The Wesley Research Center came about in part because of a research study Drs. Harthan, Kattouf and I conducted on how orthokeratology can help control myopia. It’s exciting to see how the research we are doing now might have helped our research center’s namesake.
As our research has expanded, our needs have also grown. Many clinical trials have specific standards that must be met. That might mean maintaining research subjects’ files or keeping a certain medication at the required temperature. Our current space just was not adequate for our research needs. The Dr. Newton K. Wesley Research Center will triple the size of our current clinical research suite. We finally have space for our expanding research projects: we’ll have six exam lanes, more space for pre-testing, and even space for things as mundane as storage of patient files.
Q&A with Yi Pang, OD, PhD, FAAO