May 2022

Dear Alumni, Faculty, and Friends,

We hope you enjoy this issue of the NEEC newsletter! In this issue, we hear from Pedram Hamrah about some big changes at Tufts Medical Center, we share the results of residency and fellowship match, we hear about a novel corneal therapy being investigated at NEEC, catch up with some of our alumni, and read a tribute to the late Jules Baum, MD by Tom Hedges.

We would love to hear from our alumni with any of your own updates or suggestions for future newsletter features. Please keep in touch at [email protected].


Astrid Werner, MD, Laurel Vuong, MD and Vicki Chen, MD

Note from the Chairman: Pedram Hamrah, MD

Pedram Hamrah

Spring has arrived here in Boston: the ice has finally melted in the Charles River, and daffodils have sprung up along its banks. At the New England Eye Center, we have also entered a season of transformation and growth. After one year of preparation, April saw the launch of our new EMR, EPIC, and as we enter the “optimization phase” of the launch, we are starting to realize the potential afforded by an integrated hospital wide EMR system. This transition has been brought about by the tremendous efforts of our administrative staff and our clinicians listed below, and we are truly thankful for their dedication as we implement this important change. Some changes are bittersweet. This winter, the hospital announced its intention to close inpatient pediatric services at Tufts Children’s Hospital this summer. This will end an era that began with the establishment of the Floating Hospital for Children in 1894. However, as the hospital navigates this transition, we have been working with the hospital to ensure that our highly valued Pediatric Ophthalmology Service, our Pediatric Outpatient Surgery, and our Retinopathy of Prematurity Service will be retained and able to continue their important work for pediatric patients. We look forward to their continued success. As we progress through the spring, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of a new class of residents and fellows, as well as the launch of our new PGY-1 Ophthalmology Transitional Year program, which we believe with enhance our already strong clinical training program.

-Pedram Hamrah, MD

Interim Chairman of Ophthalmology at the Tufts Medical Center

Thank you to our EPIC Launch team

We would like to extend a sincere thank you to the clinicians and staff members who lead our department’s role out of the new electronic medical records system, EPIC. We could not have done this without their tremendous dedication and effort!

Alison Callahan, MD
Catherine Choi, MD
Shilpa Desai, MD
Chandru Krishnan, MD
Yosbelkys Martin-Paez, MD
Melina Morkin, MD
Christopher Robinson, MD
Chi Hae Kwan, OD

Travis Cardinell
Bianca Cardona
Stephanie Dunn
Theresa Hines
Nathan Knowles
Michele Lomax
Jenny Mateo

Laurie Melendy
Linda Mikula
Lisa O’Connell
Parita Patel
Brittany Persson
Kyle Rippstein

Residency and Fellowship Match!

Dr. Kamden Kopani

Kamden Kopani, MD
Program Director

Laurel Vuong, MD
Assistant Program Director

Residency Match Results

We are excited to announce the results of our 2022 residency match!

We feel extraordinarily fortunate to have matched once again near the very top of our rank list, and cannot wait to work with the talented group of young physicians!

Heba Majoub – Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Simon Archambault – UConn School of Medicine
James Kwan – Tufts University School of
Varsha Pramil – Tufts University School of

Fellowship Match Results:

Cornea, External Diseases, and Anterior Segment:

Jonathan Chao, MD – Residency Oakland University William Beaumont SOM
Nisarg Chhaya, MD – Residency Brown University


Aseef Ahmed, DO – Residency George Washington U
Brendan Lawson, DO – Residency U of South Carolina

Vitreoretinal Disease & Surgery:

Will Carrera, MD – Residency California Pacific Medical Center
Prashanth Iyer, MD – Residency Drexel U COM; Medical Retina/Clinical Research fellowship Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Medical Retina:

Jason Szelog, MD – Residency U. of Missouri, Kansas City

Novel Cornea Therapy at NEEC

Boston Ophthalmologist Melina Morkin, M.D.
Melina Morkin, MD

First patients with corneal edema to receive endothelial cell injections at NEEC

Starting in February 2022, Melina Morkin, MD conducted the first injections of magnetic endothelial cells in patients with corneal edema as part of Emmecell’s phase 1 clinical trial. Currently, there are no non- surgical procedures for the treatment of corneal edema. The trial aims to evaluate the safety and efficacy of endothelial cell injections as an in- office alternative to corneal transplantation. The endothelial cells are isolated from human cadaveric corneas and loaded with magnetic nanoparticles that localize and integrate to their target location by use of a magnetic eye patch. Read more about this exciting trial here.

NEEC Faculty and Alumni at the 2022 AGS Meeting in Nashville, TN

Pictured Left to Right:

Astrid Werner, MD ’18, Aubrey Tirpack MD ’18, Susan Liang, MD, Ali Lauter MD ’20, and Gosia Peterson ’21

Dr. Werner and Dr. Liang are current NEEC faculty in the glaucoma department. Aubrey Tirpack completed her glaucoma fellowship at BPEI, and is now faculty at Cincinnati Eye Institute, Ali Lauter also completed her glaucoma fellowship at BPEI and is faculty at BPEI in the Naples office, and Gosia Peterson is a current glaucoma fellow at Stanford.

Husam Ansari, MD (far left) is faculty in the combined NEEC-OCB glaucoma fellowship, and Sarwat Salim, MD (fourth from right) is Director of the Glaucoma Service at NEEC.

Dr. Ansari and Dr. Salim lead sessions on a “typical day in my clinic” providing practical advice for navigating the daily challenges of glaucoma practice, from managing challenging discussions, dealing with clinic delays, and providing appropriate resources for low vision patients.

NEEC at VBS Meeting in Las Vegas:

Left to Right: Priya Sharma Vakharia, MD (NEEC surgical retina fellowship class of 2019), Caroline Baumal, MD and Shilpa Desai, MD met up at a recent VBS meeting in Las Vegas, NV in March, 2022

NEEC at the ASCRS Meeting in Washington DC:

Several NEEC faculty members and alumni served as surgical instructors at the ASCRS Capsular Stabilization Techniques. Pictured here are Naveen Rao (Faculty at Lahey, and graduate of NEEC Cornea Fellowship), Astrid Werner (NEEC Glaucoma Faculty), Melina Morkin (NEEC Cornea Faculty) and Amal Alwreikat (Cornea Faculty at Lahey, and clinical instructor at NEEC)

Faculty at the ASCRS Capsular Stabilization Techniques Lab: Left to Right: Naveen Rao, Melina Morkin, and Astrid Werner

Tufts Residency Alumni at ASCRS!

Left to Right: Astrid Werner ’18, Erica Liu ’17, and Jess Moon ’17

Teresa Horan (PGY3), Sarah Adelson ‘20, Chelsea Gottschalk (PGY4) catch up over a meal.

Chelsea Gottschalk (PGY4), Teresa Horan (PGY3), and Naveen Rao at the ASCRS Capsular Stabilization Techniques wetlab.

Teresa Horan (PGY3) tries out a heads up display surgical simulator.

Teresa Horan (PGY3) tries out a heads up display surgical simulator.

Update from Jessica Moon: “Since graduation, I lived in Portland for a year completing my glaucoma fellowship through the combined Casey Eye/OHSU and Devers Eye Institute. I had a great year traveling the west coast and going on many hikes but I decided to come back east. I moved to the South Shore and joined Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston where I mainly see patients in the Cape Cod offices. My husband Jason and I have one daughter Isabelle who is 2 1/2 years old. And we have since welcomed another daughter, Madeleine – she was born the day after Christmas of 2021!”

Update from Erica Liu: “After finishing fellowship at Shiley in Cornea, I lucked into a refractive job in the LA area and have been there since. They’ve helped me become an expert LASIK and SMILE surgeon and help thousands of patients out of glasses and contacts in just a few years. It’s been amazing but now I think I need to get back into general ophthalmology before too many years go by…or I forgot how traumatic ruptured globes on call are.

Here is a picture of me with my awesome surgical tech Oscar and a polar bear pillow from a thankful patient.”

Update from Emily Wright: “After completing fellowship at Emory – having loved my time in the southwest during the Albuquerque rotation as a resident – I took a job with a private practice in Tucson, AZ where I have become a partner. I feel fortunate to have amazing colleagues and the BEST staff. I continue to be humbled by both the difficult nature of glaucoma management as well as the resilient nature of my patients, and enjoy the balance of those happy cataract patients 🙃 Most of my off-time is spent enjoying nature via hiking trails or cycling paths, and exploring the beautiful southwest.”

Update from Mike Lewen: “My wife Molly and I welcomed our first child, Henry, in October 2021. Henry and Molly are healthy and we’ve never been happier/tired-er.

I’ve been in practice in Pittsburgh for almost three years. While I’m feeling more comfortable and confident in the clinic and OR, Retina remains a humbling

pursuit. Fortunately, Tony Joseph still answers my phone calls!

We are enjoying life in Pittsburgh, the pandemic notwithstanding. Molly will be completing her Pediatric Intensive Care fellowship this summer, and will be staying on for an additional year of training in Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care. After that? TBD.

It’s crazy how the time goes by. I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with Jess, Erica and Emily, and cannot wait to hopefully see them again soon.”

Donate to the Ophthalmology Teaching Fund!

The Ophthalmology training program at NEEC is exceptional because we support our residents every step of the way. We embrace the challenge of improving education, but many initiatives require funding. Your help is vital in maintaining and elevating the strong reputation of NEEC Alumni. Please click here to support out trainees by donating to our Ophthalmology Teaching Fund.

From the Archives at NEEC

From the Archives at NEEC

Jules Baum, MD
March 13, 1931 – December 27, 2021

Jules Baum, M.D. passed away on December 27, 2021. He was 90 years of age. After attending high school at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York, Dartmouth College, and Tufts University Medical School, in Boston, followed by a residency at N.Y.U.- Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, he was a fellow at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard. Most of his career was spent at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, with one third of his time seeing patients and performing corneal and cataract surgery, one third teaching, and one third performing research. His research was supported over 25 consecutive years by The National Institutes of Health (NIH). He authored or co- authored over 200 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He retired in June of 2011.

Those of us who worked with Jules at Tufts, including Noorjahan Panjwani, PhD, recall that he was passionate about research and considered an icon in Ocular Microbiology. He was always eager to collaborate with PhDs, bringing brilliant ideas to move the field forward. He trained numerous research and clinical fellows. He was an excellent writer. His presence at meetings conferred a powerful advantage to the presenters in any session he attended. His intellectual agility enabled him to grasp not only the work a scientist has done and wishes to do, but his angle of vision was consistently fresh, opening vistas of exciting and fruitful lines of inquiry or interpretation. His questions from the floor nearly always encouraged a qualitative improvement in the engagement and thinking of presenter and audience alike. He held many leadership positions: including President of the Castroviejo Society.

Others, including David Glaser, remember that “Jules was indeed a major force in external disease. In addition to his vast knowledge, sense of humor, and integrity, I remember him as an outstanding writer and editor, and for his love of red Bordeaux. Whenever we talked about wine and I mentioned a particular bottle that knocked my socks off, he would tell me about a case of the same stuff but 20 years older that he purchased way back when the first growths were $10-20 a bottle”. And Mark Mannis wrote: “The cornea community has lost one of its former great leaders. He was one of the prominent leaders of the Cornea Society (then the Castroviejo Society) and was known for his voluminous knowledge in the field, his wry sense of humor, and his uncompromising honesty. He will be missed.”

Thank you to our contributing editors:

Thomas Hedges, MD – From the Archives at NEEC
Andre Witkin, MD – Research Spotlight
Sylvia Yoo, MD – Departmental Spotlight
Melina Morkin, MD – Special Features
Vicki Chen, MD – Ophthalmology Teaching Fund Column
Astrid Werner, MD – Editor
Laurel Vuong, MD – Editor

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