Nov 29, 2021

Supporting Vision Researchers of Tomorrow

Our inaugural vision research competition, ‘Eye on the Cure presented by FYidoctors’, premiered on Saturday November 13th, 2021. In front of our three esteemed judges – Dr. Al Ulsifer, Dr. Michel Cayouette, and Tara James – early-stage vision researchers battled it out for $100,000 in awards to support their research and advance their innovations.

“Now more than ever, it is so important to encourage and invest in the research of tomorrow. We are so excited to have the opportunity to spotlight and support these talented young researchers as they work to develop new diagnostics and treatments for vision loss.”Larissa Moniz PhD, Director of Research and Mission Programs

Missed the event? You can still make a donation or view the show!

The Competitors

Jovi Wong, MD, MSc, DPhil
Ophthalmology resident, University of Toronto

Jovi is trying to increase access to eye screening by developing an eye exam that can be done with your smartphone. Jovi is combining a smartphone fundoscope and artificial intelligence that could allow health care workers in rural, remote or underserved areas to more easily diagnose eye disease in order to prevent unnecessary vision loss.

Stephan Ong Tone, MDCM, PhD, FRCSC
Clinician Scientist, Assistant Professor, Sunnybrook Research Institute

Stephan is developing an innovative way to improve corneal transplantation. Stephan will be testing if vesicles gathered from placental cells can improve transplantation by reducing scarring and the risk of rejection.

Justin Belair-Hickey, PhD Candidate
PhD candidate, University of Toronto

Justin’s research is trying to advance our understanding of stem cells and cell therapy for retinal degeneration. Justin is trying to recreate macular development in the laboratory with the hope that understanding this process will provide crucial knowledge that allows researchers to more efficiently produce cone photoreceptor cells for cell replacement therapy.

Etienne Benard-Seguin, MD
MD resident, University of Calgary
Abdullah Al-Ani, MD-PhD Candidate
PhD candidate, University of Calgary

Etienne and Abdullah are trying to improve the diagnosis of optic neuritis allowing more accurate and quicker treatment. They are testing a new low-cost and accessible software based on artificial intelligence modelling. They hope this will lower costs, lead to more consistent and robust diagnosis and better outcomes for patients with optic neuritis.

The Winners

After much deliberation, our judges and academy members voted for Dr. Jovi Wong for the $50,000 Researcher to Watch Award. Congratulations Jovi! Watch Jovi accepting the award.

The $30,000 Heathbridge Capital People’s Choice Award was voted on by over 200 audience members. After tallying up the votes, Dr. Stephan Ong Tone came out on top. Congratulations Stephan! Watch Stephan discuss the award.

Don’t worry our remaining finalists didn’t go home empty handed! They were awarded $10,000 Inspiration Awards, to help them kick-start their research projects.

Congratulations to all of our competitors! We are excited to see your progress as you move forward with your projects and help to advance the future of vision research.


Thanks to everyone who purchased tickets and donated funds. We raised over $150,000 in support of sight-saving research!

An additional thank you to our amazing judges and academy members for attending the filming of Eye on the Cure and sharing their industry knowledge and expertise.

It is thanks to YOU that we can continue the fight to end blindness once and for all.

We hope to hold this competition again next year and hope you’ll join us. Stay informed about Eye on the Cure and all our fundraising initiatives through FBC’s e-Newsletter.

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