Inherited Retinal Degenerations Fellowship
This clinical fellowship provides training in the diagnosis and care of patients with inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs) such as retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt disease. Trainees also gain experience in clinical research related to these disorders.
The fellow’s primary responsibility is to provide clinical care for adults and children who visit the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service. Working under the supervision of Drs. Eric Pierce, Jason Comander, and Rachel Huckfeldt, the fellow typically spends 4 days per week in the IRD clinic with the remainder of time spent primarily on research activities.
Individuals seen in the IRD Service include new patients referred from throughout New England for the evaluation of suspected retinal dystrophies as well as long-time patients returning for follow-up. Fellows thus develop expertise in the diagnostic evaluation of new patients as well as insight into natural history. Typical clinic assessments include retinal electrophysiology, kinetic perimetry, retinal imaging, and genetic testing.
Fellows also assist in the care of patients participating in clinical trials. Current trials include: subretinal gene augmentation for achromatopsia, choroideremia, and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa; subretinal genome editing for CEP290-associated Leber congenital amaurosis; antisense oligonucleotides for USH2A-associated retinitis pigmentosa; and subretinal human retinal progenitor stem cells for the treatment of advanced retinitis pigmentosa.
The fellow also supervises residents and participates in the evaluation and care of patients in the Mass Eye and Ear Emergency Department for 24 clinical sessions per fellowship year.
The fellow is expected to regularly attend Grand Rounds (at least 60% attendance) and present once during the year.
Additional experience can be gained from participating in clinical case conferences and weekly laboratory meetings. Depending on the fellow's interests, there is also the potential to spend additional clinical time on the general/medical Retina Service at Mass Eye and Ear or to acquire exposure to pediatric patients with IRDs with Dr. Anne Fulton at Boston Children’s Hospital.
All applicants must be eligible for a full medical license per the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine. International medical graduates must also be eligible for an H1B visa (Eligibility includes passing all 3 steps of the USMLE, and reporting results to Mass. Eye and Ear prior to the Match deadline).
The IRD Fellowship participates in the San Francisco Match Program: #4745.
Only completed applications will be considered for an interview at Mass Eye and Ear in October or November.
Contact Carol Weigel DiFranco at 617-573-3625.
The fellow will gain experience in clinical research through participating in clinical trials as described above. The fellow is also encouraged to develop clinical research projects with potential topics including genotype-phenotype correlations and the definition of disease course in patients with genetically defined inherited retinal disorders. S/he also participates in the Fellows Course, which entails preparing a publishable manuscript with faculty mentorship.
Fellows who have a strong interest in research should be aware that Mass Eye and Ear holds an NIH career development grant, which allows the institution to extend a K12 Award to a fellowship-trained ophthalmologist. Participation in our IRD fellowship provides an opportunity to increase their competitiveness for this type of award, which gives graduating fellows junior faculty status with 80% protected time for research.
Competitive annual salary. It is also expected that fellows will apply for funding from the Heed Foundation. Application for relevant Foundation Fighting Blindness or other awards is also encouraged.
Malpractice premiums are fully paid by Mass Eye and Ear.
Individual and family health insurance will be provided through the benefits program of Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
Each fellow is allotted vacation time.
Attendance and participation at appropriate meetings are encouraged. Travel reimbursement are available.