October 2021

Dear Alumni, Faculty, and Friends,

We hope you enjoy this issue of the NEEC newsletter! In this issue, we welcome our new residents and fellows, and  Residency Program Director, Kamden Kopani, MD provides an update about changes in our residency program. Also  in this issue, we hear about an OCT project from our former OCT fellow and current PGY2 resident, Omar Abu Qamar, and hear updates from the residency class of 1986, who graduated 35 years ago this year! 

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 NEECalumni@tuftsmedicalcenter.org

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

Note from the Chairman:

Jay Duker, MD

Fall in New England means football, crisp autumn air, and pumpkin spice at Dunkin’s. At the New England Eye Center it also means our academic calendar starts up with lectures, guest speakers and grand rounds here and regional meetings like NEOS and the BRUIN event. Our PGY-2 (formerly called first year residents) have settled in nicely. 

PGY-2 is their new name because, starting next July 2022, the Eye Center will be welcoming PGY-1 residents into our program for the first time. No longer will our ophthalmology residents being doing an internship but they will be with us for four years now with the first year functioning like a transitional year. Bringing this about was no small feat. I want to congratulate our program director, Kam Kopani, for leading this successful effort. In the next few years, all ophthalmology programs across the country will be instituting a combine PGY-1 year with their residency. 

-Jay Duker, MD 

Chairman of Ophthalmology at the Tufts Medical Center

2021 Tufts Alumni Reception at AAO Cancelled

After careful consideration, it has been decided to cancel the alumni reception during AAO this year which  was going to be held on Sunday, November 14th at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. 

Please SAVE THE DATE for AAO 2022, September 30-October 3 – Chicago, McCormick Place.

Welcome New Residents and Fellows!

In July 2021, we welcomed 4 new PGY-2 Residents, and 7 new clinical fellows to the Tufts New England Eye Center. Click here to read more about our new residents and fellows!

PGY2 Residents (top left to bottom right): Jonathan Caranfa, Allison Resnik, Omar AbuQamar, Angell Shi.
2021 Clinical Fellows (top left to bottom right): Yingna Snowy Liu, Ahmadreza Moradi, Dana Schneider, Jarod Santoro, Maggie Wei, Tavish Nanda, Hardik Parikh.

Update on the NEEC Residency Program

Dr. Kamden Kopani

With the new academic year in full swing, and fresh faces learning the exam, taking call, and performing ocular surgery, now seems like a great time to take stock of all of the fantastic developments in our NEEC residency program. Firstly, we need to congratulate our recent graduates. From the class of 2020, Dr. Alison Lauter has completed her glaucoma fellowship at Bascom Palmer, and has stayed on to join their faculty. Dr. Sarah Thornton completed her neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at Wills Eye Institute and has also decided to stay on as a member of the neuro-ophthalmology faculty. Way to make an impression Alison and Sarah. Dr. Huan Mills has entered her second year of academic practice at UMass, and Dr. Sarah Dech (nee Adelson) has brought her talents to the rocky mountain state of Colorado where she is busy in private practice. From the class of 2021, Dr. Christine Benador-Shen is currently a Uveitis fellow at the Proctor Foundation at UCSF, Dr. Eleni Konstantinou is a medical retina fellow at the NIH, Dr. Gosia Dymerska is a glaucoma fellow at Stanford, and Dr. Jarod Santoro has remained with us here at Tufts as our medical retina fellow!

In other news, beginning in 2022, we will be implementing an integrated internship into our training program. The new PGY-1s will have a broad based education in Medicine, Surgery, Radiology, Emergency Medicine, and will be joining us here at the NEEC for 3 months jump starting their ophthalmic education. This new integrated internship has been the product of years of planning and we all look forward to its  implementation. During the ophthalmology portion of the PGY-1s education, they will be joining us in our resident comprehensive clinic (COS) where they will have the opportunity to begin seeing patients right away. Our residents  have adapted to much more virtual learning than ever and are thriving in the new environment. We can’t wait to be  able to eat dinner together in the conference hall for Wednesday evening lectures once it is safe. Overall, the residency is thriving, and the trainees continue to impress us with their dedication, intelligence, and adaptability. 

Kamden R Kopani MD 

Residency Program Director

NEEC Research Spotlight:

Ultrahigh Resolution OCT Prototype System (UHR-OCT) has been used to Identify  a Potential New Clinical Biomarker in Early Dry AMD

Dr. Omar Abu-Qamar 

Thanks to a long-standing collaboration with Dr. James Fujimoto’s laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since the 1990’s, Tufts Medical Center has been at the forefront of optical coherence tomography (OCT) research. For many years, Tufts has offered imaging research fellowships to implement and study a variety of these innovative OCT technologies in the ophthalmology clinic. A number of these fellows have gone on to become Tufts ophthalmology residents, the most recent of whom is Dr. Omar Abu-Qamar, one of our current first-year ophthalmology residents. Omar received his M.D. from the University of Jordan, followed by a Master in Clinical Investigations at Harvard Medical School, and joined Tufts as an OCT research fellow from 2019-2021.

During Omar’s time as a fellow, he was responsible for running a new generation ultrahigh resolution OCT prototype system (UHR-OCT) built by Dr. Fujimoto’s group of MIT. This system has unique hardware and software components that enables it to achieve tissue axial resolution twice as fine as  existing commercial OCT systems. This powerful tool was used to identify imaging biomarkers in eyes with dry early age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Such early disease  biomarkers can improve our understanding of the disease pathophysiology, and it can potentially risk stratify participants for studies of therapeutics targeted at the early disease stage – which are currently in the pipeline.

One of the study’s notable findings  was a subtle outer retinal hyporeflective gap that separates the RPE from Bruch’s membrane in eyes with dry early AMD, and this gap increases in thickness as the disease advances to the dry intermediate stage. Furthermore, this hyporeflective gap appears to be continuous into the drusen compartment suggesting a shared structural origin (see figure). Currently, a comparative study to understand the histopathologic  correlates of this subtle structural biomarker is being run, and these  exciting results will be shared in a publication soon.

Figure 1 Legend: UHR-OCT B-scan from an eye with AMD displayed in log grey scale (figure A) and linear scale (figure B, for  better visualization of the outer retinal hyperreflective bands). Note the subtle hyporeflective gap or band between the PRE and  Bruch’s membrane (figure B, between the two arrows) that appears to be continuous into the drusen compartment. The thickness  of this hyporeflective gap/band can be measured by analyzing the OCT signal amplitude graph, where the hyporeflective band  appears as a dip in the signal amplitude (OCT amplitude graphs, arrowheads).

Figure 1 Reference: Siyu Chen, Omar Abu-Qmar, Eric Moult, ByungKun Lee, Stefan B Ploner, Andreas Maier, Nadia K Waheed,  James G Fujimoto; Investigating Subtle Structural Changes in Eyes with Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Pilot Study Using  Ultrahigh-Resolution Optical Coherence Tomography. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(7):1816.

NEEC Welcomes JP Gorham, MD to the Pediatric Ophthalmology  Department!

Dr. John Paul Gorham

We are excited to welcome our newest faculty member to the Division of   Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus- Dr. John Paul Gorham (he goes by JP). JP grew up in New Hampshire with his three older siblings. He attended Dartmouth College, then followed in his eldest sister’s footsteps to Emory University School of Medicine. He continued at Emory, where he completed his ophthalmology residency at the Emory Eye Center. Most recently, he completed his fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus at the prestigious Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan. He comes highly recommended from faculty at both Emory and Michigan (who were both hoping he would stay on at one of their universities). We are so pleased that he decided to move back to New England and join us here at NEEC. 

JP is excited to be back on the East coast. He is joined by his 70lb black lab-mix who loves peanut butter and playing fetch. His main hobbies are cooking and baking, and he loves to stay active. His research interests include barriers to healthcare access and healthcare equity. He plans to screen ROP babies in the NICU and will be available for pediatric and adult strabismus patients in both Boston and Framingham. Please join us in welcoming JP to NEEC!

You can read Dr. Gorham’s full bio on our website, here.

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

Residency Class of 1986

Drs. Leah Levi, Sam Gold, Bob Hutchins, and Debbie Zuckerman graduated from Tufts Ophthalmology Residency Program 35 years ago! Read below for updates from Dr. Gold and Dr. Levi.

Class of 1986 taken in 1983 as First Year Residents. Left to Right: Debbie Zuckerman, Bob Hutchins, Leah Levi, and Sam Gold
Class of 1986 reunited at NEEC graduation in 2012. Left to  Right: Bob Hutchins, Leah Levi, Debbie Zuckerman, Sam Gold 
Class of 1986 Graduation Skits Rehearsal. Left to Right: Sam Gold, Debbie Zuckerman, Leah Levi, and Sam Gold.

Dr. Levi writes: “2 years ago I switched to working part time as the Neuro-Ophthalmologist at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla CA. I joined Scripps Clinic in 2013 after 23 years at UC San Diego in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Neurosciences. Part time is just perfect except for not being able to travel during this time of COVID. Our two children Max (29) and Elly (26) are doing great” 

Dr. Gold writes: “After completing my residency at Tufts in 1986 I completed a retina fellowship at Univ. of PA/Scheie Eye Institute. I started a solo retina practice in Manchester NH in 1988. I was first retina specialist to practice in Manchester and was the only retina specialist until 2005. My practice was extremely busy working 12 hours a day and frequently operating on nights and weekends. I ran the ROP service at the local NICU and liked treating the premature babies. I sold my practice last year and am looking forward to traveling with my wife once the pandemic settles down.”

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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