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Annual Ophthalmology Research Day

Jun 6 2019

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20/20 Blog

Palo Alto, CA – Stanford ophthalmology resident and fellow research training for the academic year culminated in June at the Stanford Annual Ophthalmology Research Day. Faculty mentors, colleagues, and alumni gathered to hear presentations focusing on a range of medical research from across the field of ophthalmology, including drug efficacy, surgical interventions, novel devices, eye disease biomarker studies, and bioinformatics. 

Dr. Vinit Mahajan M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chair for Research, provided guidance to ensure trainees fulfilled the yearly requirements, made timely progress, and prepared for the research day presentation. 

Mahajan said, “A primary aim of our department is to graduate residents and fellows who can perform research in a way that moves the field forward. Our faculty mentors have spent extra time after clinic and on weekends to support our trainees – and it really showed in the high quality of presentations.” 

Among the twenty-two presentations were Mahajan’s mentees. Cassie Ludwig M.D., a second-year resident presented, “Proteomic Detection of Aqueous Biomarkers in Diabetic Retinopathy.” Jong Park M.D., a first-year resident, presented, “Splice-site mutations in patients with Stargardt disease.”

“New molecular therapies are bringing researchers into the clinic and physicians into the lab. Our individualized research education for fellows and residents reflects this changing medical landscape,” Mahajan said. “It’s remarkable how Dr. Ludwig and Dr. Park were able to find time to interact with the graduate students in my lab and execute challenging translational research projects.”

Completing a yearly research project and presenting findings is essential to training top eye surgeons. Residents and fellows are encouraged to implement or participate in prospective trials, including laboratory-based research, because they provide a high level of medical evidence. The process of making a research plan, executing it, and then analyzing the data leads to a rich educational experience. Students are paired with faculty mentors in their areas of interest. 

Dr. Park said, “It was great to share with my colleagues the work I performed in the lab. It was a fantastic opportunity to combine my interest in genetics with helping patients.”

Six of the residents, including Ludwig and Park, received the Marmor-Blumenkranz Resident Research Award. This award provides funding for trainees to present their research at a national meeting. It was established by former resident Rupa Gupta M.D. to recognize the research mentorship she received from former department chairs, Michael Marmor M.D and Mark Blumenkranz M.D.