Vitreoretinal Fellowship of the Retina Service


Program Director: Dean Eliott, MD (Director, Retina Service)
Associate Program Director: John B. Miller, MD
Faculty: Joan W. Miller, MD (Chief of Ophthalmology); Evangelos S. Gragoudas, MD (Distinguished Director, Retina Service); Mary Aronow, MD; Jason Comander, MD, PhD; Ivana Kim, MD; Leo A. Kim, MD, PhD; John I Loewenstein, MD; Shizuo Mukai, MD; Lucia Sobrin, MD, MPH; Demetrios Vavvas, MD, PhD; David Wu, MD, PhD; Yoshihiro Yonekawa MD; Lucy H Young, MD, PhD
Part-time Affiliates: Christopher Andreoli, MD (Atrius); Dong (Dawn) Yang, MD (Atrius); Miin (Irene) Roh, MD (Atrius/Joslin); Archana Seethala, MD (Atrius)
Length of Program: Two years
Fellows per year: Three

The surgical retina fellowship at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School was established in 1977 by Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas. He set out to create the premier surgical fellowship in retina. Four decades later, we firmly believe that we offer the most comprehensive retina training in the country. Fellow graduates are confident in both the surgical and medical management of all diseases of the retina, vitreous, and choroid. Our deep roster of faculty offers a role model in every retina subspecialty and clinical practice model, while also offering advisors at early, mid and late career time points. The team of retina faculty at Mass. Eye and Ear is unmatched across the country and offers an excellent environment in which a fellow can grow.


For more information about this fellowship, or to request an application, please contact:

David Tosatti, the Retina Service Manager, or Nicole Ramos, administrative assistant to Dr. Dean Eliott


Overview

Our goal is to train highly motivated individuals to become leaders within the field of retina. Our fellowship alumni include numerous professors of ophthalmology, retina service directors, academic chairs, and a dean of a medical school, while also including many of the most sought after private practice groups around the country.


Eligibility

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 requirements of full licensure can be viewed on the mass.gov website.


Educational Objectives

Surgically, the fellow will become comfortable in any surgical retina scenario. They will master skills in both basic and complex retinal maneuvers, managing diseases including:

  • Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment
  • Diabetic tractional retinal detachment
  • Proliferative vitreoretinopathy
  • Macular surgery
  • Traumatic retinal detachment after ruptured globe
  • Dislocated lenses and scleral fixated IOLs
  • KPro related vitreoretinal
  • Ocular oncology surgery
  • Pediatric retina surgery

Clinically, the fellow will be able to demonstrate competency in the diagnosis of diseases of the retina, vitreous, and choroid. As Mass Eye and Ear, patients from all over the world come with unusual diagnostic dilemmas and complex surgical referrals, and there is no shortage for presentation- and publication-worthy clinical cases.

As an investigator, the fellow will be able to carry out meaningful research projects that can be presented at national and international meetings and published in high-impact peer-reviewed journals. The fellows work very closely with an excellent cohort of ophthalmology residents and medical students on a constant basis, both clinically and from a research standpoint.


Clinical Responsibilities

Fellows take call a half week at a time divided across the six surgical fellows. Call is very busy and high yield with multiple surgical cases that come through our emergency room. Second years cover the bulk of the call over the first three months.

1. Surgery

We are a high-volume surgical retina practice, with multiple cases occurring at any time. Our fellows are the primary surgeons on the vast majority of surgeries, using state-of-the-art instrumentation and techniques with:

  • 25, 23, and 27 gauge vitrectomy systems
  • Standard and Advanced scleral buckling
  • Zeiss and Leica microscopes
  • Ngenuity 3D Heads Up viewing
  • Resight, BIOM, and AVI wide angle viewing systems
  • Endoscopic vitrectomy
  • Intraoperative OCT
In addition, each fellow will gain experience in the management of complicated vitreoretinal conditions, including ocular trauma, intraocular foreign bodies, complex retinal detachments (proliferative vitreoretinopathy, giant retinal tears, complicated proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and pediatric retinal detachments), and biopsy of retina and choroid. Fellows take the lead in the preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative management of all patients managed in the Retina Service.

2. Medical Retina

There is a weekly Macula Conference, at which time particularly interesting cases are prepared and presented by the resident to the first year fellows. The Retina Conference is a cornerstone in the teaching of fellows, and aims to create a systematic approach towards the diagnosis and treatment of retinal disease. The second year fellows serve in a teaching capacity to assist the residents as they prepare the cases.

In addition, medical retina patients are seen in every clinic, and the fellows gain extensive experience in the diagnosis and management of macular diseases from all faculty, including leaders in the field like Joan Miller and Dean Eliott. The fellow also has an opportunity to treat patients with a variety of posterior segment inflammatory disorders with our posterior uveitis faculty member, Lucia Sobrin, including learning how to manage patients with immunomodulatory therapy. We also have pediatric retina surgeons who focus on a wide variety of pediatric vitreoretinal diseases. Furthermore, a unique aspect to the fellowship is the extensive exposure to the diagnosis and management of intraocular tumors, with Evangelos Gragoudas and Ivana Kim. All aspects of subspecialty retina care are therefore represented in our fellowship.

3. On-Call Schedule

As the only ocular emergency center in New England, the Emergency Department at Mass. Eye and Ear draws patients from a large geographical area with significant vitreoretinal disease. This allows for the fellow to be involved in the surgical and medical management of interesting and often complex cases. The call duties also include coverage of established Retina Service patients. Call is taken one-on-one with a retina faculty member in two half week blocks, Monday 8AM to Thursday 5pm and Thursday night until Monday morning. We have dedicated Retina Service call block time on Monday and Thursday afternoons in the Surgicenter to complete on-call cases.


Clinical Facilities

The Retina Service at Mass. Eye and Ear is a multi-site service offering top level retina care throughout Eastern New England. Despite its large size, the fellow experience is centrally located all within downtown Boston. The majority of the fellows’ time is spent on the 12th floor of the downtown office at 243 Charles Street in Boston, MA. There is also a busy and thriving clinical practice at the Longwood office at 800 Huntington Avenue by Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. All facilities are fully equipped with examination lanes, procedure rooms, and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. We routinely perform Heidelberg, Optovue, and Zeiss spectral domain OCT. We have five different OCT-Angiography platforms for use by the fellows.  All sites have Optos wide field photography, fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography, and B-scan with full time dedicated certified retinal photographers.

A fully equipped Laser Suite is also located at both 243 Charles and Longwood with dedicated nursing staff for the administration of intravitreal injections and laser therapies. The lasers include argon, diode, YAG, Pascal, and PDT systems.


Educational Roles

Fellows have traditionally played an integral role in the education of residents. During the first year, fellows serve as attending staff to the residents in the Emergency Department one half day per week.

Although fellows are not responsible for giving didactic lectures to the residents, they are involved in helping organize Retina Conference cases (see: Clinical Responsibilities), and in addition, the fellows are responsible for presenting a case at Grand Rounds approximately once per year. Each year there is a Fellows Course at Mass. Eye and Ear. Once during the fellowship, the fellow is expected to write a review paper that will be published as in an ophthalmic journal, undertaken with faculty mentorship. There is a tradition of excellent teaching by the Retina Service fellows, and this has been well appreciated and recognized by the residents. Many of the annual Fellow of the Year Awards given by the residents for the best teacher among the fellows have been given to a Retina Service fellow.


Research Oppportunities

The fellowship provides many opportunities for the pursuit of basic, clinical, or translational research. The Retina Service will help fellows prepare applications for support from private sources (e.g. The Heed Foundation, Fight for Sight, Inc., etc.) and public sources (e.g. NIH National Research Service Awards). The Retina Service fellows have been extremely successful in getting external funding, such as the Heed Fellowship.

Research opportunities are currently available in many areas. The Retina Service faculty members are involved in a wide variety of projects encompassing a full spectrum of investigation from clinical trials and epidemiology to basic science bench research. Many examples can be viewed on each faculty’s research profile:

The fellow can also tap into the extensive research community in the Boston area. Even within ophthalmology and eye research, this community is quite extensive, and includes the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear and Joslin Diabetes Center to name two.

Many Retina Service fellows have been successful in conducting multiple research projects that resulted in publication in high impact peer-reviewed journals, such as Ophthalmology, JAMA Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology, and RETINA. In addition, they have been very successful in winning awards, which have included: 

  • Heed Fellowship
  • Retina and Macula Society Fellow Research Awards
  • Michels Award
  • ARVO Travel Grants

Fellows who have strong academic inclinations should be aware that Mass. Eye and Ear holds an NIH career development grant allowing the institution to extend a K12 Award to a fellowship-trained ophthalmologist. Mass. Eye and Ear fellows who demonstrate strong research potential will be given careful consideration for this award. K12 awards give a graduating fellow junior faculty status with 80% protected time for research.


Supervision, Evaluation, and Appointments

Supervision, Evaluation, and Appointments

  • Dean Eliott, MD, Program Director
  • John B. Miller, MD, Associate Program Director
  • Retina Service attendings during clinical responsibilities
  • Retina Service research preceptors during research
Evaluation process
  • Evaluation by the Retina Service faculty every four months

Appointments during fellowship

  • Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear 
  • Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School
  • Clinical Fellow, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital

Fellow Funding and Benefits

1. SALARY: Currently $62,000/1st year; $66,000/2nd year. This can be supplemented by a Heed Fellowship (100% of stipend to the fellow) and other extramural and intramural fellowships or grants (50% of stipend to the fellow, 50% to the Retina Service). Internally, Harvard also offers several educational grants for our current vitreoretinal fellows. The Thomas J. Madden Fellowship provides salary support to one second year fellow annually. The Robert Brockhurst Academic Development provides additional funding support for meeting attendance.

2. HEALTH INSURANCE: Family health insurance will be provided through the benefits program of Mass. Eye and Ear.

3. VACATION AND SICK LEAVE: Each fellow is provided 2 weeks (10 work days) of personal vacation/sick time each year. This is in addition to 10 days of excused time for retina conferences and job interviews throughout the year. All vacation time must be planned in advance and be pre-approved by the Program Directors. Mass. Eye and Ear's calendar also includes 9 legal holidays per year.

4. PROFESSIONAL MEETINGS: Attendance and participation at appropriate professional meetings is encouraged. The first-year fellows usually attend Atlantic Coast Retina, Duke AVS, ARVO and the MEEI Vitrectomy Course. The second-year fellows usually attend ASRS, AAO, Macula Society, Retina Society, and VBS. Fellows get two weeks (ten work days) to attend meetings. Fellows are reimbursed for travel to meetings up to $1,500 per academic year with additional opportunities for funding available.


Application Process

The Vitreoretinal Fellowship participates in the San Francisco Match Program [SF Match Program # 4067], and getting a match number and having the number in our files should be a top priority.

Only completed applications will be considered for interview. It is your responsibility to make sure that your SF Match application is complete before our application deadline.

At least one letter should be from a retina specialist in your residency program. Applicant interviews are generally conducted in September or October. The application deadline is listed on the SF Match Website. Applications will be reviewed upon completion in the late summer.