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The Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences Hosts a Research Open House for Medical Students

Date Posted: Friday, November 05, 2021

On Thursday, November 4, members of the Eye Team gathered virtually with medical students and student researchers from UMass Chan Medical School and across the country for the Second Annual Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Research Open House. The open house serves to ignite student interest in ophthalmology and act as an invitation for interested students to pursue research and clinical opportunities within the department.

The night was opened with introductions led by Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, MHCM, President of UMass Memorial Medical Group and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. Haijiang Lin, MD, PhD, moderated the discussion, which included presentations from faculty on ongoing basic, translational, and clinical projects.

Huan Tianxiao, PhD began the presentations by discussing the genetic and genetic epidemiology projects she is working on with Johanna Seddon, MD, ScM, Director of Retina and Director of the Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence, and her pioneering work in the field of epidemiology and ocular image banking. The department’s strength in retina was a major theme throughout the night. Haijiang Lin, MD, PhD, Clinical Vice Chair and Director of Translational Research Center spoke with Bo Tian, MD, PhD, about their various projects, in particular their collaboration with Guangping Gao, PhD, Director of Horae Gene Therapy Center and Viral Vector Core, to develop innovative gene therapy treatments for age-related macular degeneration.

Juan Ding, OD, PhD, spoke about her collaborative project with Family Medicine and Community Health that looks to bring handheld retinal cameras into primary care clinics to screen for diabetic retinopathy using a new artificial intelligence algorithm. The final presentation of the night was by Claudio Punzo, PhD, who shared some of his work investigating the link between smoking and age-related macular degeneration.

The event also proved an excellent time to hear from some of our residents, as well as residency coordinator Anita Amin, and Misha Faustina, MD, FACS, Director of Ophthalmology Medical Education and Director of Oculoplastic Services, about the opportunities within in the department to shadowi, rotate, and conduct research with residents. Students were engaged in asking questions of faculty, and faculty in turn encouraged students to reach out, ask questions and get involved in projects that interest them.