Inherited Retinal Degenerations Fellowship
This fellowship provides advanced clinical 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.
- Program Director: Rachel Huckfeldt, MD, PhD
- Program length: 1 year
- SF Match number: 4745
- Additional faculty: Jason Comander, MD, PhD; Eric Pierce, MD, PhD
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 3 to 4 days per week in clinic, with the remainder of time spent on research and clinical trial activities.
Clinic sessions typically involve in-depth assessments of each patient and extensive discussion about the testing results and the underlying disorder. The fellow will gain extensive experience with retinal electrophysiology, retinal imaging, genetic testing, and visual field patterns associated with retinal degenerative disorders.
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 is gained from participating in clinical case conferences, genetic testing group meetings, and weekly laboratory meetings. Depending on the fellow's interests, there is also potential to spend additional clinical time on the general/medical Retina Service at Mass Eye and Ear or 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 also participate in and contribute to clinical trials on the IRD Service, which currently include:
- Gene therapy for choroideremia and juvenile X-linked retinoschisis
- The first-in-human trial of human retinal progenitor stem cells for advanced retinitis pigmentosa
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. He/she 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.
$62,000/year. It is also expected that fellows will apply for funding from the Heed Foundation and the Foundation Fighting Blindness to support their fellowship year.
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 is encouraged. Vacation time and travel reimbursement are available.