Message from the Chair
Welcome to the Fall 2023 edition of the Department of Ophthalmology InSight Newsletter. In the rhythms of our department life, during the fall, we fully engage in all aspects of our mission, including our research, educational, and clinical activities.
The research spotlight in this issue shines on Associate Professor Mike Manookin, PhD, and his lab’s work to understand the computational circuitry of the retina. His work will be critical to efforts to restore vision in the coming years.
In our patient care feature, we introduce three new faculty who joined us this fall – Assistant Professors Brian Chou, MD, MA; Tony Chung, MD; and Chris Fortenbach, MD, PhD.
In our philanthropy feature, learn about how Suzanne Ragen has supported our department through her volunteer work with the Community Action Board and, most recently, her generous support for the establishment of the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Ophthalmology this year.
Our department is proud of our fellowship programs. In our education feature, meet Dr. Jeannette Stallworth, this year’s pediatric ophthalmology fellow, a Bellevue native who has come home for her subspecialty training.
Russell N. Van Gelder, MD, PhD,
Boyd K. Bucey Chair, UW Medicine Department of Ophthalmology
Director, Roger and Angie Karalis Johnson Retina Center
Research: Manookin Lab is furthering understanding of the retina
Finding a way to restore vision lost to eye disease is the overarching goal of Associate Professor Mike Manookin’s research at the Vision Science Center at South Lake Union.
“The goal is to understand the retina well enough to restore vision in disease states,” says Manookin. “We currently don’t have a deep enough understanding of the retina to restore function following blinding disease.”
To do that, we need to know the retina's circuitry, Manookin explained.
“There's been progress made in some animal models, but less so in humans in learning what information different retinal circuits are encoding and how disease affects them,” he says.
The Manookin laboratory investigates the function and connectivity of neural circuits in the retina using techniques including electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and electron microscopy.
Working in collaboration with Research Associate Professor Ethan Buhr, PhD, and Adjunct Professor Fred Rieke, PhD, Manookin is recording the electrical activity of light sensitivity in neurons of the retina to help learn how we can stimulate light sensitivity. His research is partly supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Manookin says there are over 80 different neuronal types in the human retina. These form the components of the specialized circuits that transform the signals from photoreceptors into a neural code responsible for our perception of color, form, motion, and, thus, visual experience.
Many blinding diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, cause death of the rods and cones but spare other cell types within the retina. Thus, many techniques for restoring visual function following blindness are based on the premise that other cells within the retina remain viable and capable of performing their various roles in visual processing. However, the circuitry of the remaining retina does seem to change following the loss of photoreceptors. Understanding the native and non-native circuitry will be critical to emerging techniques for vision restoration, including gene therapy, cell-based therapies, and small molecule photoswitches.
Raised in a farming area of central Utah, Mike completed a mission for his church in Estonia. He studied linguistics as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University before becoming interested in neuroscience. At the University of Michigan, studying for his PhD, he “really got hooked on vision,” studying visual coding in the retina and physiology of the retina.
He came to UW as a post-doctoral scholar before joining the faculty of the Department of Ophthalmology in 2015. Mike and his wife Karen, a former faculty member in the School of Dentistry, have four children. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and reading.
Patient Care: Welcome to our new faculty members
The department welcomed three new faculty members on Sept. 1.
Assistant Professor Brian Chou, MD, MA, returns to our department after completing his ophthalmology residency at UW in 2022. He recently completed a neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at the Stein/Doheny Eye Institute at UCLA. He grew up in South Carolina before venturing to Chicago for his undergraduate and medical education at Northwestern University. He concurrently completed a master’s degree in Bioethics and Medical Humanities during his time at Northwestern. He enjoys staying active through rock climbing and partner dancing.
Assistant Professor Anthony Chung, MD, practices comprehensive ophthalmology and specializes in cataract surgery. He was born and raised in Ames, Iowa. He attended the University of Iowa, where he obtained his B.S. with honors in psychology and a minor in biology. He then received his medical degree from the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. He completed his internal medicine internship and ophthalmology residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Dr. Chung served on the faculty of Case Western Medical School for several years before joining UW. Dr. Chung is an avid cook and enjoys traveling, hiking, and entertaining his two daughters with his wife, a member of the OB/GYN department faculty.
Assistant Professor Christopher Fortenbach, MD, PhD, grew up in Northern California, where he attended the University of California, Davis, for his undergraduate education. He stayed there to complete an MD/PhD program, where he earned his PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, studying retinal physiology.
Dr. Fortenbach completed his ophthalmology residency and vitreoretinal surgery fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is an active clinician scientist with a laboratory studying how the retina encodes light and therapies to restore vision loss. In his spare time, Dr. Fortenbach enjoys spending time with his family, backpacking, cycling, tennis, and cooking.
Philanthropy: From art to the eyes - improving vision care and fueling research
Imagine you visit the Seattle Art Museum. Your experience will be visual, appreciating the art's color, texture, scale, and shape, as well as reading titles, captions, and background information.
Now imagine you visit the museum with a blindfold on. This is how our patients with low vision must experience art, and this is the challenge Suzanne Ragen faced as a docent in 2008 when visitors from Lighthouse for the Blind arrived at the museum. Having served as a volunteer docent since 1965, Suzanne is passionate about making art come alive for visitors. Yet she had never given a tour for individuals with low vision. When she better understood their needs for potential accommodations such as sight dogs, canes, magnifiers, and vivid audio descriptions of the room and the art, Suzanne founded Art Beyond Sight. She trained 15 docents to provide monthly tours at the Seattle Art Museum for individuals with low vision. For example, it needed to be more adequate to verbally describe the sculpture of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, noting details about his hair, toes, or bust. Low-vision visitors want to know details about lighting and the room where the sculpture was situated.
Suzanne’s appreciation for vision care and research has grown over the years. While her husband Brooks, who passed away in 2018, served on the UW Medicine Scholarship Development Committee, Suzanne began volunteering with the UW Eye Institute’s Community Action Board (CAB) in 2011. Suzanne learned about faculty-led research to prevent blindness and develop novel treatments for eye diseases. Along with others, Suzanne helped Bucey Chair Dr. Russell Van Gelder and fellow CAB volunteer Camille Jassny spread the word about UW Medicine’s excellent clinicians, researchers, and patient care through outreach talks throughout the Puget Sound region.
Motivated to help Dr. Van Gelder recruit and retain excellent clinicians and researchers committed to preventing blindness, Suzanne and her family established the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Ophthalmology this year. She hopes this fellowship will significantly help the Department of Ophthalmology attract clinicians and scientists who drive innovative research and discoveries benefitting current and future patients. The first holder of the fellowship will be appointed and recognized in 2024.
We are grateful to Suzanne Ragen and the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Family Foundation for their generous support. In addition to supporting research and faculty in ophthalmology, the Ragen family has supported scholarships for medical students at the UW School of Medicine for many years. Finally, named after Brooks and Suzanne Ragen, the annual Ragen Volunteer Service Award acknowledges the outstanding service from a volunteer, faculty, or staff member who advances the mission of UW Medicine to improve public health.
Education: Pediatric Fellowship is a homecoming for Dr. Jeannette Stallworth
As a Bellevue native, Dr. Jeannette Stallworth, the current Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus fellow, is thrilled to serve in the area where she was raised.
Ophthalmology currently has four fellowships – Retina, Pediatric, Oculoplastics, and Uveitis. The Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Fellowship began in 2012, said Fellowship Director Associate Professor Erin Herlihy, MD.
“We are so pleased to have Jeannette here as our fellow this year,” she said. “There is a shortage of pediatric ophthalmologists nationwide, and we are glad she could come home to complete her training.”
Dr. Herlihy said the fellow participates in a wide range of clinical care and surgical procedures that comprise pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus, including pediatric cataract and glaucoma surgery, nasolacrimal and pediatric oculoplastic procedures, surveillance and treatment of retinoblastoma, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), uveitis, and inherited retinal diseases. The fellow works collaboratively with many other pediatric subspeciality services at Seattle Children’s. The fellow also has the opportunity to interact with vision scientists at UW and Seattle Children's.
“One of the amazing parts of this pediatric fellowship program is the variety of experiences,” Stallworth says.
Her weeks are full, with numerous clinics and two days per week operating at Seattle Children’s, participating in retinopathy of prematurity rounds at both UWMC-Montlake and Seattle Children’s weekly, performing research, and additionally operating with Associate Professor Courtney Francis, MD, on adult strabismus cases twice a month. She also works with ocular oncology specialist Andrew Stacey, MD, and oculoplastics specialist Chris Chambers, MD, on their pediatric patients at Seattle Children’s. She has her fellow clinic and helps run the inpatient consult service.
Dr. Stallworth is participating in a research project with Dr. Michelle Cabrera, Associate Professor and Division Director, Pediatric Ophthalmology. Premature infants are at risk for ROP, a disease of the developing retina. Seattle Children’s pediatric ophthalmologists use advanced technology to noninvasively image newborn eyes with a handheld version of a technology found in most ophthalmology offices, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT).
Dr. Stallworth graduated from Newport High School before attending Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She then earned her medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine.
“I had originally thought I might become a pediatrician, but it was as a medical student that I first became interested in ophthalmology,” she said. “I enjoyed surgery, and ophthalmology offers such a wide variety of cases.”
Dr. Stallworth completed her general surgery internship and an ophthalmology residency at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded a Heed Fellowship.
Outside of work, Dr. Stallworth enjoys playing the cello, traveling, and spending time with her husband and eight-month-old daughter.
Visit the department website here to learn more about the department’s fellowship programs.
InSight Newsletter Summer 2023
InSight Newsletter | Summer 2023
Message from the Chair
Welcome to the Summer 2023 edition of the Department of Ophthalmology Insight Newsletter.
The research spotlight in this issue shines on Ricky Wang, PhD, George and Martina Kren Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research and Professor of Ophthalmology and Bioengineering, who has been selected as the 2023 UW Medicine Inventor of the Year, the school’s highest honor for innovation. The Inventor of the Year Award recognizes a UW researcher whose work has the potential to radically improve healthcare through the translation of research from the bench, with industry partnerships, to products or processes with significant impacts on health.
Ricky’s work in ophthalmology and bioengineering has been transformational, including the development of optical coherence tomography (OCT) angiography, a technique in which blood flow can be measured in all blood vessels in the eye non-invasively. This technique is now a standard testing modality in ophthalmology offices worldwide. He has also collaborated with Professor of Ophthalmology and Graham and Brenda Siddall Endowed Chair Tueng Shen, MD, PhD, on developing an OCT-based method to measure the cornea's structural integrity. Ricky is a beloved colleague in our department, and we are so proud to see him receive this honor.
In our patient care feature, you will learn about the work of one of our newest faculty members, Assistant Professor Miel Sundararajan, MD, a specialist in both cornea and uveitis who also leads our community outreach efforts. Last month Miel and Eye Institute staff performed vision testing of athletes at the Special Olympics in Tacoma. Our residents and fellows have joined her at other community health clinics throughout the Seattle area.
The Bishop Foundation has been a critical supporter of the department for many years, including the support of Bishop Professor Jay Neitz, PhD. Learn more about the Bishop Foundation in this spotlight on philanthropy.
Finally, in our education spotlight, our 49th annual Resident Alumni Day was held on June 17 with keynote speaker Kuldev Singh, MD, PhD of Stanford University, followed later that evening by our graduation honoring an outstanding group of departing fellows and residents.
Please visit our newly redesigned website at ophthalmology.washington.edu for more news and updates.
We hope you enjoy our summer update!
Russell N. Van Gelder, MD, PhD, Professor and Boyd K. Bucey Chair, UW Medicine Department of Ophthalmology
Research: Ricky Wang, PhD to receive UW Medicine Inventor of the Year Award
Ricky Wang, PhD, George and Martina Kren Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research and Professor of Bioengineering and Ophthalmology, has been selected as the 2023 UW Medicine Inventor of the Year.
The UW Medicine Inventor of the Year award honors outstanding UW scientists whose inventions have significantly affected human health and our local economy. The Inventor of the Year Award recognizes a UW researcher whose work has the potential to radically improve healthcare through the translation of research from the bench, with industry partnerships, to products or processes with significant impacts on health. Selection is based on the researcher’s contributions to the bioscience sector and the UW faculty community and for contributions to the UW Co-Motion mission: to extend the impact of UW research through new partnerships that encourage investment in innovation.
“I am deeply humbled by this honor,” Dr. Wang said. “It has truly been my honor to work here at UW with so many brilliant colleagues in Bioengineering, Ophthalmology, and our lab.”
Dr. Wang is widely credited with inventing optical coherence tomography (OCT) angiography, a technique in which blood flow can be measured in all blood vessels in the eye non-invasively. This technique is now a standard testing modality in ophthalmology offices worldwide. His efforts have contributed to retinal findings in patients, including infants, with unprecedented precision, speed, and imaging resolution. He has also collaborated with Professor of Ophthalmology and Graham and Brenda Siddall Endowed Chair Tueng Shen, MD, PhD, on developing an OCT-based method to measure the cornea's structural integrity.
The School of Medicine and the University of Washington will honor Dr. Wang as the Inventor of the Year at a reception this coming fall, where he will receive an inscribed statuette and a $5,000 award.
The Wang lab is dedicated to developing novel and clinically useful biomedical imaging techniques for early diagnosis, treatment, and management of human diseases. By exploring the properties of light, tissue, and their interactions, the Wang lab invented, discovered, or pioneered a wide range of techniques, including optical microangiography, full-range complex Fourier domain optical coherence tomography, optical clearing of biological tissue, optical elastography, phase-sensitive optical coherence vibrometry, and multifunctional nanoparticle contrast agents. These methods have found broad application in fields ranging from imaging tissue morphology, tissue blood microcirculation (brain, retina, cochlea, skin, muscle, etc.), imaging tissue mechanical properties, and characterizing embryonic heart development.
At the outset of the pandemic, the Wang lab developed a smartphone-based technique to capture information such as oxygen level, pulse rate, respiratory rate, and blood perfusion and adapted their low-cost, camera-based optical sensing system to collect vital sign measurements from COVID-19 patients. Symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and health providers could use the system to assess the severity of the illness and help decide if they need hospitalization, reducing unnecessary burdens on hospitals.
Dr. Wang has been a UW faculty member since 2010. He is a joint Professor in both Departments of Ophthalmology and Bioengineering. In addition to the Kren Chair, Dr. Wang has also held the Washington Research Foundation and David and Nancy Auth Innovator Award in the Department of Bioengineering.
Dr. Wang earned his PhD in engineering from the University of Glasgow. He began his academic career in the United Kingdom, holding a professorship at Cranfield University. In 2005 he moved to Oregon Health Sciences University, where he directed the biophotonics and imaging laboratory.
Dr. Wang’s laboratory is phenomenally productive. He has authored or co-authored over 500 papers in peer-reviewed literature. He is currently editor-in-chief of Biomedical Optics Express journal.
Learn more about Dr. Wang's research at his lab website, https://depts.washington.edu/wangast/.
Patient Care: Miel Sundararajan, MD leads community outreach for Ophthalmology
Giving back to the community is an integral part of Dr. Miel Sundararajan’s mission as an ophthalmologist.
“I have always been involved in caring for the underserved and wanted to bring that here,” said Sundarajan, Assistant Professor and specialist in cornea and uveitis. “It’s exciting for me to be involved in broadening our outreach as a department.”
Dr. Sundararajan is the director of community outreach for the department. Under her leadership, trainees and staff have participated in several outreach activities over the past year.
These have included the twice-yearly Seattle-King County community clinic at Seattle Center. This four-day event includes medical and dental screenings at no cost to participants. Dr. Sundararajan was joined by residents and fellows who have gained valuable experience treating underserved populations.
In June, she was joined by Eye Institute staff to provide vision screening for participants in the Special Olympics at Pacific Lutheran University.
“The more that we do, the more people become aware of our ability to participate,” she said.
Born in Cuba, where her parents had lived for five years, Miel, which means honey in Spanish, moved to the US when she was two and was raised in South Bend, Ind. Her mother formerly taught at the Indiana University medical school and is now an emergency medicine physician.
“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor and do surgery,” she said. She completed an eight-year undergraduate and medical school program with Rice and Baylor, followed by residency in New York and fellowships in cornea and uveitis at the University of California San Francisco.
She decided on ophthalmology because of the diagnostics involved and the surgical element combined.
“What's exciting about cornea is that there is so much to be done to restore vision; my particular interest is in corneal transplant,” she said. “The technology has advanced to the point where we can transplant just a thin layer of membrane to be successful, and it is exciting to be in the forefront of that,” Dr. Sundararajan said. “Medical cornea allows us to look at several conditions, including corneal ulcers; there is also overlap with uveitis and scarring disorders, and the multidisciplinary aspects are very compelling to me. The UW is uniquely positioned in cornea and uveitis with our large catchment area.”
In her research, Dr. Sundararajan has worked closely with Dr. Russell Van Gelder, MD, PhD, Bucey Professor and Chair, using his work in genetic sequencing of pathogens and applying that to corneal ulcers. This work aims to identify a pathogen from the corneal ulcer in a matter of hours and to choose the proper medication.
Last fall Dr. Sundararajan and her husband, Abhishek, welcomed a daughter, Ayanta. She enjoys reading and exploring the outdoors in her spare time.
Philanthropy: Celebrating the Bishop Foundation and 40 years of vision science research
After building a career in lumber, roofing, and banking in the Pacific Northwest, Edward Bishop and his wife, Lillian, established the Bishop Foundation in 1962 to advance eye research. The foundation set forth a bold purpose: “the cure of diseases of the eye, the correction of faulty vision, [and] the relief of needy sufferers from eye afflictions.” Mr. and Mrs. Bishop wished to support scientists working on the big unanswered questions in vision science.
In 1975, the foundation became interested in research conducted at UW Medicine and the Department of Ophthalmology. According to Emeritus Professor Robert Kalina, MD, the Bishop Foundation established the first professorship in the department’s history. Professorships help to recruit and retain talented scientists, bestow the holder with recognition, and provide a reliable source of funding for lab research.
"The Bishop Professorship added a foundation for discovery in our department that led to more named positions over many years and continues to this day, " Dr. Kalina said.
Robert Rodieck, PhD, held the Bishop Professorship from 1978 to 1997 and was known for significant contributions to visual neuroscience. Kris Palczewski, PhD held the Bishop Professorship from 1999 to 2005. Palczewski’s laboratory is best known for solving the structures of different forms of rhodopsin.
Jay Neitz, PhD, has held the Bishop Professorship since 2009. Jay and his collaborator (and spouse) Grace Hill Chair Maureen Neitz collaborate in their studies of the visual system. Their laboratories focus on developing gene therapy for cone-based vision disorders; investigating the role of genetic variability in cone photopigments in eye diseases such as macular degeneration, myopia, and glaucoma; and understanding the physiological basis for color perception. They have also mentored dozens of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.
According to Dr. Neitz, the professorship has made a huge difference in the work the Neitz laboratories have accomplished. It has allowed their group to explore exciting new areas of research, and they have made groundbreaking discoveries in vision science that would not have been possible without the Bishop Foundation’s support.
We extend deep gratitude to the Bishop Foundation for their partnership in investing in vision science over 40 years.
Education: 49th annual Resident Alumni Day and graduation
The 49th annual Department of Ophthalmology Resident Alumni Day was held June 17, 2023, in the Orin Smith Auditorium at UW Medicine South Lake Union.
The keynote speaker was Kuldev Singh, MD, MPH, Professor of Ophthalmology at Stanford University, speaking on “Glaucoma Innovation and the Looming Public Health Crisis.”
Four graduating residents and four graduating fellows presented their research projects to the audience.
At the graduation ceremony held in the evening, Hannah Hashimi, MD, now a fourth-year resident, received the Resident Research Award for her presentation on “Effects of Social Determinants of Health on Preferred Practice Patterns in Glaucoma.” Andrew Chen, MD, Assistant Professor, was honored as the full-time Teacher of the Year.
The graduation event honored fellows Matt McKay, MD; Alexandra Van Brummen, MD; Erin Godbout, MD: Kareem Sioufi, MD and Gabrielle Turski, MD. Dr. McKay is joining the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, while Drs. Godbout and Sioufi are headed to private practice in oculoplastics and medical retina, respectively. Dr. Van Brummen is staying at UW to complete a second fellowship in oculoplastics, and Dr. Turski is moving to the University of Virginia to complete an additional fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery. Graduating residents Alex Legocki, MD (oculoplastics fellowship); Preston Luong, MD (private practice comprehensive); Connor Nathe, MD (private practice comprehensive); Grace Su, MD (cornea fellowship); and Philina Yee, MD (glaucoma fellowship) were also honored.
InSight Newsletter Spring 2023
UW Department of Ophthalmology
InSight Newsletter | Spring 2023
Welcome to InSight
Welcome to the Spring 2023 edition of the Department of Ophthalmology InSight Newsletter
Spring is a beautiful time in Seattle and especially at the University of Washington, with the cherry blossoms in bloom on the Quad. With the renewal of the season, we are pleased to present our new edition of the InSight newsletter.
The research spotlight in this issue shines on Associate Professor Kathryn Pepple, MD, PhD, who recently received a three-year grant from the Foundation Fighting Blindness to study treatments for uveitis resulting from gene therapy. Dr. Pepple’s lab is at the forefront of understanding how immune mechanisms cause ocular inflammatory disease. This highly competitive award will allow her lab to understand how we can potentially minimize this unwanted complication of gene therapy in the eye.
In our patient care feature, you will learn about the work of one of our newest faculty members, Clinical Associate Professor Eugene May, MD, who has established a neuro-ophthalmology clinic within the MS Center on the UW Medical Center-Northwest campus, dedicated to addressing the visual issues that individuals with multiple sclerosis face.
The Dawn’s Light Foundation, created by Chris and Jenny Carlson, is supporting important work - the diagnosis and management of inherited retinal diseases, including a generous gift to sponsor a one-day conference last fall.
Finally, in our education spotlight, meet the incoming ophthalmology residents joining us in July 2023. Our education team, led by Residency Program Director and Robert E. Kalina Professor Parisa Taravati, MD completed the Herculean annual task of reviewing over 600 applications for our five residency positions and interviewing dozens of candidates for our program. We are fortunate once again to have matched well within our top 5% of candidates, a testament to the competitiveness of our program nationally.
We hope you enjoy our spring update!
Russell Van Gelder, MD, PhD, Professor and Boyd K. Bucey Chair, UW Medicine Department of Ophthalmology
Grant to study prevention of uveitis in ocular gene therapy
Associate Professor Kathryn Pepple, MD, PhD, has received a three-year grant from the Foundation Fighting Blindness to study ocular gene therapy associated with uveitis and test prevention strategies.
“Gene therapy is an amazing technology for patients with inherited eye diseases,” Dr. Pepple said. “With gene therapy, we can hope to restore sight and to prevent blindness in a way never possible before. Inflammation in the eye following gene therapy administration, or gene therapy-associated uveitis, has been identified in several clinical trials. This inflammation is a potential barrier to gene therapy for all patients.”
Dr. Pepple said the goal is to identify a safe and effective treatment strategy to prevent gene therapy-associated inflammation for all patients.
“Any approach we can develop that improves therapeutic delivery and patient outcomes will be beneficial. Looking at inflammation not as a barrier to this great technology but as something that everybody is dealing with, and planning for it, will help make gene therapy an even better treatment in the long run.”
To understand why gene therapies delivered by AAV vectors cause uveitis, Dr. Pepple will collaborate with Glenn Yiu, MD, PhD at UC Davis, to study the problem in mice and non-human primates. They will also test a novel gene therapy vector designed to block innate immune responses in combination with medications used to treat uveitis to identify an effective strategy for human gene therapy patients.
For the past 10 years, Dr. Pepple’s lab at South Lake Union has studied uveitis in rodent models of disease. Dr. Pepple and her team have identified specific cytokines — small proteins crucial to our immune system response — involved in different stages of eye inflammation. This work was recently published in Experimental Eye Research PMID: 35921962. Using animal models, her lab has also tested novel anti-inflammatory therapies in collaboration with industry partners. A recent collaboration involved a Seattle biotech company that has developed a new molecule for blocking T-cell activation. T cells are immune cells responsible for initiating many forms of autoimmune uveitis. This work was published in the March edition of Translational Vision Science and Technology (PMID: 36976157).
Dr. Pepple’s research and clinical efforts all address her central career goal to prevent blindness in her patients with uveitis through effective medical management of ocular inflammation. She recently gave a talk to the Department of Ophthalmology Community Action Board about her work.
“Even though many medications are available for patients with uveitis, treatment failures, and side effects can leave some patients without good disease control. New and better therapies are still needed. Using our animal models of uveitis, we have identified immune cells and cytokines that are important in driving chronic inflammation in the eye. The next step is to confirm this data using human tissue samples.”
To achieve this new goal, Dr. Pepple will collect patient samples to form the University of Washington Ocular Inflammation Biospecimen Repository. She explained that the biorepository would provide critical confirmation about the inflammatory signaling molecules and pathways active in human eyes with uveitis.
“Furthermore, based on our data in mice, we predict we will identify distinct cytokine profiles in eyes with different types and stages of uveitis. Ultimately, we hope to use this molecular information to better tailor treatment strategies for our patients with uveitis.”
Dr. Pepple’s research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Research to Prevent Blindness, and generous gifts from donors, including Graham and Brenda Siddall and Mark J. Daily, MD
Patient Care Spotlight:
Meet Neuro-Ophthalmologist Dr. Eugene May
With the support of the Department of Ophthalmology and the UW Multiple Sclerosis Center, Clinical Associate Professor Eugene May, MD has established a neuro-ophthalmology clinic within the MS Center on the UW Medical Center-Northwest campus, dedicated to addressing the visual issues that individuals with multiple sclerosis face.
“I see patients once a week in the MS clinic at Northwest,” Dr. May said. “It is unusual to have immediate access to a neuro-ophthalmologist on-site in an MS clinic. We can also use optical coherence tomography to monitor patients and teach the MS fellow.”
Dr. May is nationally recognized for his expertise in multiple sclerosis and has recently served as a National MS Society board member.
“There has been remarkable progress in treating MS during my career,” he said. “There are now 19 FDA-approved medications for MS treatment, and we have a far better understanding of MS than when I started.”
Dr. May joined the full-time neuro-ophthalmology faculty of the UW Department of Ophthalmology in April 2022, with appointments in ophthalmology and neurology. He sees patients at the UW Medicine Eye Institute at Harborview, Harborview 4-West Clinic, and the VA Puget Sound Health Care System.
Dr. May was born and raised in New Orleans and received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Tulane University.
“I thought I would be a pediatrician until I took a neurobiology course in college, so I went into neurology. In my first year of medical school, I began the path to neuro-ophthalmology,” he said. “What I find interesting about neuro-ophthalmology is that most cases are difficult and have many possible causes, and it's up to us to figure out what is wrong and the best treatment.”
He received a US Army Health Professions Medical Scholarship to the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he became interested in the brainstem neuroanatomy of the eye-movement control system. Dr. May completed a neurology residency and a neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. He was assigned to the ophthalmology and neurology training programs at Madigan Army Medical Center, where he was on the faculty for five years.
Between 1997 and 2022, Dr. May was on the medical staff of the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and a neuro-ophthalmologist at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute. He was a longtime clinical faculty member, volunteering to teach ophthalmology and neurology residents, as well as seeing patients in the 4West clinic with the residents.
Dr. May and his wife, Patti, an obstetrician at Swedish in Issaquah, have an adult son and daughter. They enjoy spending time outdoors and have hiked worldwide, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro several years ago.
Philanthropy Spotlight: Dawn's Light Foundation supports research into inherited retinal diseases
When Chris and Jenny Carlson’s son couldn’t see the NEO-WYSE comet, it began a journey for the family that resulted in the creation of the Dawn’s Light Foundation, which supports research into Inherited Retinal Diseases (IRDs).
Through genetic testing, their son Lucas was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. Often diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited retinal disease, causing progressive loss of night and peripheral vision. The condition often leads to legal blindness and sometimes complete blindness.
Jenny and Chris, who recently retired from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center after a career as a genetic epidemiologist, set about creating a foundation to support research into IRDs.
“Ironically, I spent my career studying the genetics of human disease at the Hutch, and then suddenly we found ourselves in genetic counseling as an affected family,” Chris Carlson said. “But we are inspired to use our resources to push things forward. Creating new therapies to treat these diseases will take time and investment.”
In September 2022, sponsored by a generous gift from the Dawn’s Light Foundation, the UW Department of Ophthalmology held a Vision Insights conference at UW Medicine South Lake Union, discussing the diagnosis and management of IRDs.
UW Department of Ophthalmology faculty Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Research Jennifer Chao, MD, PhD and Assistant Professor Debarshi Mustafi, MD, PhD led a featured panel of clinicians, researchers, and patient speakers to discuss current practices and the future of IRD treatment.
The Chao laboratory is working to create models of retinal degenerative diseases that can be used to discover potentially therapeutic drugs. The laboratory takes blood samples from volunteers affected by retinal degenerative diseases to create patient-specific stem cells and grow them into retinal cells to study.
“Ultimately, our group is focused on discovering new drug therapeutics that could benefit those affected by inherited retinal degeneration,” Dr. Chao said.
The Mustafi laboratory is applying sequencing technology to more accurately reveal pathogenic variants that lead to IRDs, especially in the pediatric population.
“Using isolated blood samples from affected IRD patients and their families, our lab can carry out genome sequencing to identify novel pathogenic variants of disease and reconstruct disease haplotypes, which has implications for interpreting disease risks in IRDs for patients and their families,” Dr. Mustafi said.
At the Vision Insights conference, Dr. Mustafi discussed pediatric diseases and new emerging genetic sequencing technologies that have the potential to provide a faster and more accurate diagnosis. They were joined by Research Associate Professor Ram Sabesan, PhD, who studies high-resolution functional imaging of the retina in IRD patients, and Timothy Cherry, MD, Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, who highlighted how his lab is using model systems called retinal organoids to study IRDs. The event also included a patient and family panel.
“It was a very successful event in that it rallied the community of patients, researchers, and clinicians around the study of IRDs,” Carlson said. “We hope that it can happen again in the future.”
Welcome to our Ophthalmology residents in the class of 2027
We are excited to announce the incoming residents joining us in July 2023. Their first year is a joint internship with the Department of Internal Medicine. Learn more about our residency program at ophthalmology.washington.edu/education/residency
Dany Hage, Tulane University
Johnson Huang, University of Washington
Deborah Im, University of Southern California
Jonathan Le, University of Wisconsin
Marcus Turner, University of California, San Francisco
2022 Community Report now available
InSight, the 2022 Community Report of the Department of Ophthalmology, has been published and is available online HERE.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first Community Report in three years. Despite the significant challenges during this time, we have continued to pursue our singular mission: to alleviate suffering from eye disease. We continue to do this through our robust research programs, outstanding patient care, educational programs to train the next generation of physicians, and by gifts from generous donors and grateful patients. We have had a remarkable year in the department in each of these areas and are delighted to share our progress with you.
InSight Newsletter Winter 2023
Message from the Chair
2023 is in full swing, and we are pleased to present our Winter edition of the InSight newsletter.
The research spotlight in this issue shines on Assistant Professor Debarshi Mustafi, MD, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Andrew Stacey, MD, highlighting their collaborative efforts to develop genetic testing to confirm a diagnosis of retinoblastoma in neonatal patients. They were awarded a three-year grant from the Gerber Foundation to implement this technology in clinical practice.
We are pleased to introduce our newest faculty member, Assistant Professor Eric Duerr, MD! Dr. Duerr joined us last fall as a comprehensive ophthalmologist at the Eye Institute at Harborview. Learn more about his passion for patient care and academic medicine.
The Karalis Johnson Retina Center at South Lake Union celebrated four years last month. The Center continues to build on donor Angie Karalis Johnson’s vision to create a center where patients can find the finest care available anywhere and participate in research designed to preserve and restore vision lost to retinal disease.
Finally, in our education spotlight, meet the incoming fellows joining us in July 2023, and learn where some of our current fourth-year residents will continue their graduate medical education.
We hope you enjoy our winter update!
Russell Van Gelder, MD, Ph.D., Professor and Boyd K. Bucey Chair, UW Medicine Department of Ophthalmology
Rapid neonatal diagnosis of retinoblastoma awarded a grant by the Gerber Foundation
Drs. Debarshi Mustafi and Andrew Stacey, saw an opportunity to merge their research and clinical interests after a discussion in the operating room examining retinoblastoma patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Retinoblastoma is a devastating eye cancer that affects about one in 100,000 children. In past times, the mortality rate for this cancer was high, and survivors often lost their eyes to the disease. Retinoblastoma comes in two varieties – inherited and sporadic. While in some cases, a family history will suggest genetic disease, in cases where there is no family history, it is important to determine if the child carries the genetic risk factor in their whole body or just in the affected eye. In the former case, the other eye must be examined under anesthesia frequently, while in sporadic cases, the fellow eye is very unlikely to be affected. The current timeline to obtain genetic testing to confirm a diagnosis of genetic retinoblastoma took weeks to months and necessitated repeated exams under anesthesia for these neonatal patients while the results were pending. A more rapid genetic test result would not only alleviate this but would alter treatment decisions, such as initiating chemotherapy treatments carrying some risk and sometimes deciding whether a cancerous eye needs to be removed.
Drs. Mustafi and Stacey set out to find a solution to this pressing problem. They utilized an emerging technology being developed in the Mustafi and Van Gelder laboratories, termed adaptive sequencing, which allows one to selectively sequence specific segments of the genome to target the retinoblastoma gene. They demonstrated that after the isolation of DNA from the blood from a patient, they could deliver a definitive diagnosis of genetic retinoblastoma in a matter of days. Drs. Mustafi and Stacey recently published their work in Ophthalmic Genetics and were awarded a three-year grant from the Gerber Foundation to implement this technology in clinical practice.
Meet Eric Duerr, MD: A Talented Physician with a Passion for Teaching
Eric Duerr, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology and comprehensive ophthalmologist, grew up in Pittsburgh, where he developed a love for basketball while playing on his high school team. His father, a gastroenterologist, was a significant influence on his decision to pursue a career in medicine. Dr. Duerr was recruited to play center on Case Western University’s basketball team, where he competed against some of the best teams in the Division III University Athletic Association conference.
Despite his success on the court, Dr. Duerr's true passion was always in medicine. He studied biology at Case Western and attended medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. There, he met his future wife, Stephanie Chen, MD, who had previously worked as an ophthalmology technician. Today, Dr. Chen is a neurosurgeon and fellow at the University of Washington Department of Neurosurgery.
Dr. Duerr completed his residency and fellowship in glaucoma at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida. He chose academic medicine because he loves serving patients and wants to positively impact the next generation of physicians.
“I truly enjoy working with the residents in our program,” he said. “I believe I learn a great deal from these young doctors.”
We are thrilled to have Dr. Duerr join our team and look forward to seeing the positive impact he will make on our patients and residents in the coming years.
Karalis Johnson Retina Center marks four years
January marked the fourth anniversary of the opening of the Roger and Angie Karalis Johnson Retina Center. This state-of-the-art clinical and research facility at South Lake Union brings together our outstanding UW retina and uveitis clinicians, the most up-to-date equipment, and our cutting-edge research teams.
The Center fulfilled a long-standing dream of donor Angie Karalis Johnson. Angie, who worked for decades with her late husband, ophthalmologist, and emeritus clinical faculty member Roger Johnson, MD, saw first-hand the terrible impact of blinding retinal disease on patients. The goal of the Center is to create one location where patients can find the finest patient care and participate in research designed to improve outcomes in the future.
Angie and Roger had previously endowed the Roger Johnson Lectureship at Seattle Children’s, which brings top pediatric ophthalmologists to lecture in Seattle. Years later, they endowed the Roger H. Johnson Award for Macular Degeneration. This prize is given to the scientist or clinician who has significantly contributed to the understanding or treatment of age-related macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is a debilitating condition that affects the macula, a region in the retina responsible for sharp, central vision. People who suffer from it often lose their central vision. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 5.44 million people in the U.S. are projected to have vision loss from age-related macular degeneration by 2050.
“Angie’s gift has been transformative over the last four years,” says Russell Van Gelder, MD, Ph.D., Professor and Boyd K. Bucey Chair. “Thanks to her generosity, we have one of the nation’s most outstanding facilities to care for patients with macular degeneration and other retinal diseases. The center is equipped with state-of-the-art research equipment and staffed by the nation’s best researchers. I anticipate many advances — helping millions of people — will flow from Angie’s remarkable gift.”
We are excited to announce the incoming fellows joining us in July 2023.
Pediatric Ophthalmology: Jeannette Stallworth is currently completing her ophthalmology residency at the University of California San Francisco.
Oculoplastics: Alexa Van Brummen completed her ophthalmology residency here at the University of Washington and is currently completing a fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology at UW/Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Vitreoretinal Surgery: Nathan Agi is currently completing his ophthalmology residency at NJMS Rutgers Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
Uveitis: Yamini Attiku completed her ophthalmology residency at All India Institute of Medical Sciences and is currently completing a Medical Retina fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Fla.
We are also excited to share fellowship match results for our UW fourth-year residents graduating this summer.
Alex Legocki will pursue an Oculoplastics Fellowship at Allure Laser Center & Medispa in Seattle.
Grace Su will be pursuing a Cornea Fellowship at UC Irvine.
Philina Yee will be pursuing a Glaucoma Fellowship at UC Irvine.
InSight Newsletter Fall 2022
InSight Newsletter | Fall 2022
Welcome to InSight
Message from the Chair
Welcome to the Fall 2022 edition of the Department of Ophthalmology InSight Newsletter.
Fall is upon us, and we are pleased to present our latest edition of the InSight newsletter.
The research spotlight this issue shines on Dan and Irene Hunter Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Aaron Lee and Klorfine Family Chair and Associate Professor Cecilia Lee, jointly awarded a $33 million, four-year grant as part of the Bridge to Artificial Intelligence (Bridge2AI) program, a new initiative by the National Institutes of Health to expand the use of artificial intelligence in biomedical and behavioral research. It is the largest grant award in department history. Artificial intelligence holds great promise for enabling research breakthroughs and improving clinical care; you can read more about this transformative project in the accompanying article.
Glaucoma remains the second leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Our patient care spotlight is on our glaucoma service, which is central to ourmission of eliminating suffering fromeye disease. We are pleased to welcome back Dr. Karine Bojikian to the department this year as Assistant Professor. Karine completed her ophthalmology residency at UW in 2020 and was previously a visiting scientist here. Her expertise includes the surgical and medical management of standard and complex glaucoma and cataract cases, including laser treatment and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. Her research focus investigations encompass optical coherence tomography angiography applications in the diagnosis and disease progression monitoring of glaucoma.
Thanks to our generous donors, we are honored to announce that Dr. Ruikang (Ricky) Wang, Ph.D., was recently appointed to the George and Martina Kren Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research. Dr. Jennifer Chao, MD, Ph.D., Vice Chair for Research, was recently appointed to the Gordon and Joan Bergy Endowed Professorship in Ophthalmology. Learn more about their appointments and the donors in this issue.
Finally, in our education spotlight, you will learn more about the unique collaboration between the residency programs at Madigan Army Medical Center and UW. Our PGY-4 Ophthalmology residents each spend part of their rotation at Madigan at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where they have the opportunity to perform refractive surgery for active-duty service members. In exchange, two Madigan residents each spend a month at UW for an ophthalmology trauma rotation. It is truly a win-win partnership for both programs.
Russell Van Gelder, MD, PhD, Professor and Boyd K. Bucey Chair
Research Spotlight: Strengthening the power of artificial intelligence through intentional data collection
Cecilia Lee, MD, MS and Aaron Lee, MD, MSCI (Lee Lab)
Associate Professors of Ophthalmology Aaron and Cecilia Lee have recently been awarded a $33 million, four-year grant as part of the Bridge to Artificial Intelligence (Bridge2AI) program, a new initiative by the National Institutes of Health to expand the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in biomedical and behavioral research. It is the largest grant award in department history.
AI holds great promise for enabling research breakthroughs and improving clinical care. The power of AI lies in its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and extract otherwise undetectable information, but this power is limited by the quality of the data used to develop AI models. Although exciting progress is being made in this field, the need for large, thoughtfully curated datasets remains a significant challenge.
The NIH Common Fund developed the Bridge to Artificial Intelligence (Bridge2AI) initiative to address this critical need. The Drs. Lee have been awarded one of the four Bridge2AI data generation grants for new biomedical and behavioral datasets designed for AI analysis.
“We will lead multisite efforts to create an ethically sourced, state-of-the-art dataset for type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) research in this unprecedented project,” notes Dr. Cecilia Lee. “We will recruit 4,000 participants with diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds representing all stages of T2DM disease severity and collect complex multimodal data. This collaboration is structured with cross-disciplinary modules focusing on several interconnected aims, including team building, ethical oversight, training new AI researchers, and creating tools and standards for data collection. We hope that this dataset, while designed for T2DM, will also serve as a model for AI-based research into other diseases.”
The Lees’ computational ophthalmology lab has examined deep-learning models’ value in medical practice. In 2021, investigators tested seven algorithms designed to detect diabetic eye disease from retinal scans and found that just one met the performance of human screeners.
“These worked fairly well in the screening context. There didn’t seem to be any bias in detecting disease in people of different races, but there was a decrease in performance concerning people’s age. That is what this new project hopes to address,” Dr. Aaron Lee said. “If you don't have a well-constructed, balanced dataset, then the AI models will tend to fail in underrepresented groups.”
For more details about this project, read the UW Newsroom article here. To learn more about the Bridge2AI program, visit the Musings from the Mezzanine blog from the National Library of Medicine, watch this video about the Bridge2AI program, and read the NIH press release. Patient Care Spotlight: New Faculty Member Karine Bojikian, MD, Ph.D.
Glaucoma Service Overview
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. The term ‘glaucoma’ describes a group of chronic eye conditions characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve. The damage is often related to high intraocular pressures, but it can also happen at normal levels of intraocular pressure.
Glaucoma has no symptoms in its early stages. Half the people with glaucoma do not know they have it. Some people have no signs of damage but have higher than normal eye pressure (called ocular hypertension). These patients are considered "glaucoma suspects" and have a higher risk of eventually developing glaucoma.
“To lower the pressure, the most common treatment is prescription eye drops,” said Dr. Karine Duarte Bojikian, MD, Ph.D., who joined the Glaucoma division this past summer. “There are also laser and surgical treatments, with the same aim, to lower the eye pressure and prevent glaucomatous vision loss.”
A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Bojikian completed her first ophthalmology residency and glaucoma fellowship training at the Federal University of Sao Paulo. In 2011, Dr. Bojikian joined the UW as a visiting scientist, primarily in glaucoma research and published over 80 scientific works, including peer-review publications, book chapters, and abstracts in society meetings. She then completed her second ophthalmology residency training at the University of Washington in 2020. During her training here, she received several awards and distinctions for excellence in ophthalmology, including the Association of University Professors in Ophthalmology/Research to Prevent Blindness Research Award, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Resident Excellence Award, and the National Eye Institute/ARVO Travel Grant Award. She completed a Heed Fellowship in glaucoma at the OHSU Casey Eye Institute & Devers Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon, in 2021.
Dr. Bojikian is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in glaucoma and cataracts. Her expertise includes the surgical and medical management of standard and complex glaucoma and cataract cases, including laser treatment and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. Her research focus investigations encompass the applications of optical coherence tomography angiography in the diagnosis and disease progression monitoring of glaucoma.
“I am glad to be here at UW with the highest quality in medical and surgical care while supporting our patients through the journey of glaucoma care.’
Education Spotlight: Ophthalmology Resident Madigan Rotation
Resident rotation at Madigan and Harborview benefits both organizations
Our PGY-4 Ophthalmology residents each spend part of their senior year in a rotation at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where they have the opportunity to work with Drs. Patrick Munson and Joshua Roe. Residents perform refractive surgery for active-duty service members during their time there with cutting-edge laser technology.
In exchange for our residents having the opportunity to work at Madigan, two Madigan residents each spend a month at UW for an ophthalmology trauma rotation. During the four-week rotation, the Madigan resident takes senior call at Harborview, where they can supervise the junior ophthalmology residents and participate in surgical emergencies, including ruptured globe operations.
Dr. Philina Yee, MD (PGY4), did her rotation at Madigan in August 2022.
“It was great learning how to use the femtosecond laser. I had never seen LASIK or PRK done before this rotation,” Yee said. “I loved my experience there, working with the population there of mostly younger people on active-duty service. We get to see the work at Madigan and appreciate those serving in the military and their families.”
Dr. Yee grew up in the Seattle area. After graduating from Cornell University with a BS in Neurobiology and Behavior and a minor in Global Health, she worked at the National Institutes of Health researching signal transduction in sensory neurons. She attended Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where her interest in ophthalmology blossomed. Dr. Yee was happy to return home to Seattle, where her family still resides, including her younger brother, a UW resident in internal medicine at Virginia Mason Medical Center.
Yee said her residency at UW Ophthalmology has been transformational.
“I think I have changed more as a person than any other time in my life during residency,” she said. “I have been involved in many complex cases and gained great experience; these four years have gone by so fast.”
Faculty named to endowed positions thanks to generous gifts
Department of Ophthalmology faculty members Dr. Jennifer Chao and Dr. Ruikang (Ricky) Wang have recently been named to endowed appointments at the University of Washington.
“Congratulations to Dr. Chao and Dr. Wang! An appointment to an endowed professorship and endowed chair is one of our highest honors,” said Dr. Russell N. Van Gelder, MD, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. “We are grateful to these donors for their generous gifts to support continued excellence in patient care and research.”
Dr. Chao, MD, Ph.D., Vice Chair for Research, was recently appointed to the Gordon and Joan Bergy Endowed Professorship in Ophthalmology. Dr. Chao has been on the faculty at UW since 2009.
A retinal disease specialist, Dr. Chao has an active laboratory that studies retinal degenerative disorders. The Chao Lab is investigating potential applications of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for treating eye diseases and identifying new drug therapies for eye diseases.
Inherited retinal degeneration is a significant cause of blindness. The Chao laboratory is working to create models of retinal degenerative diseases that can be used to discover potentially therapeutic drugs. The laboratory takes blood samples from volunteers to create patient-specific stem cells and grow them into retinal cells to study.
In support of the Department of Ophthalmology, in 2012, Joan Bergy provided funding for the Joan and Gordon Bergy Visiting Professorship series, which brings three outstanding vision scientists to visit and deliver scientific lectures each year. Several years ago, Joan moved to the Aljoya community on Mercer Island. She and Gordon had a beloved home in Hansville, Washington. After she made the difficult decision to sell the house, she decided to use the proceeds to fund an endowed professorship. Dr. Chao is Joan’s retina specialist at the Karalis Johnson Retina Center at South Lake Union.
“I am inspired by the visionary leadership of Dr. Van Gelder, who has led the UW Medicine Eye Institute and the Retina Center, and Dr. Jennifer Chao, whose ongoing research is the use of stem cells to restore patient vision,” Joan said. “What we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we give to others lives on,” she says. “And what could be more important than the gift of vision?”
A UW faculty member since 2011, Dr. Ruikang (Ricky) Wang, Ph.D., was recently appointed to the George and Martina Kren Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research. Wang is a professor with appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Ophthalmology at the UW and directs the Biophotonics and Imaging Laboratory.
The Wang lab is dedicated to developing biomedical imaging techniques for early diagnosis, treatment, and management of human diseases, especially retinal diseases.
His efforts have contributed to retinal findings in infants and adults with unprecedented precision, speed, and imaging resolution. Dr. Wang is widely credited with being the inventor of optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), a technique in which blood flow can be measured in all blood vessels in the eye non-invasively. This technique is now a standard testing modality in ophthalmology offices worldwide.
George Kren was born in Prague, Czech Republic, and emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s. In 1976 he co-founded Tencor Instruments, a company that later merged into KLA-Tencor. He was also instrumental in founding the Surfscan Division and acquiring the companies Censor in Lichtenstein and NanoPro in Germany. For many years he had a leading role in SEMI Standards, where he received the SEMI Lifetime Award in 2004. George is now retired and lives with his wife, Martina, in Monterey, California. George serves on the UW Medicine Eye Institute Community Action Board, and he and Martina are also helping to support an endowed professorship in advanced ocular imaging within the Department of Ophthalmology. Seattle/King County Eye Clinic
Miel Sundararajan, MD, and University of Washington Department of Ophthalmology Residents volunteer at annual eye screening event
Dr. Miel Sundararajan, MD, and Ophthalmology department residents volunteered at the Seattle/King County Eye Clinic held Oct. 20-23 at Seattle Center. The free community clinic offered vision screening, complete eye exams, reading and prescription eyeglasses to help those who struggle to access affordable eye care. Dr. Sundararajan serves as the director of outreach programs for the department