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Volume 23, Number 5  |  October 2015

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Dr. Sherif El-Defrawy
Message from the Chair

Sherif El-Defrawy
Chair, Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences
University of Toronto

Academic promotion is a basic tenet for all of us who are involved in university careers. This is true for academics in most faculties but for those of us in clinical departments, where there is no tenure, promotion and its significance is less obvious.  Clinicians are more motivated by the work they do, rather than by promotion, to drive their academic productivity. In fact, since academic promotion is not accompanied by an increase in salary or an increase in resources, at least in our department, some may ponder the incentive.  However, reaching a senior promotion milestone is noteworthy recognition by the University of the contribution of a faculty member and shows their dedication to the academic mission and the attainment of either national or international status, as well as testament to work well done.
In medicine, it is often easier to attain promotion on the basis of research and discovery rather than teaching and education and creative professional development. I find it interesting that several studies have shown that department chairs and departmental promotion committees value teaching skills and education as a most important area for evaluating a clinician educator's performance for promotion. However high quality contributions to teaching and education are not quite as discernable as those for research, therefore require the keen perception and sound judgement of the decanal committee to give them appropriate emphasis. More and more we recognize how vital and valuable these different academic career streams are to the Department, the Faculty of Medicine and the University, each with their own unique merit.
In the past three years we have had nine individuals go forward for promotion to associate or full professor.  Our departmental Promotions Committee, its long standing Director Dr. Martin Steinbach, and this year’s Director Dr. Graham Trope, have all done an outstanding and excellent job of ensuring that individuals’ dossiers are appropriate to go forward to the decanal committee and that their application packages are optimized.  The Promotions Committee members are: Michael Brent, Michael Easterbrook, Elise Heon, Wai-Ching Lam, Jamie Oestreicher, Ray Stein, Carol Westall and Agnes Wong, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank this group for the significant amount of work they do annually to make promotion happen.

I’m very happy to note that of the nine applications we recommended to the decanal committee over these past three years, all were successful;   and our decanal promotions committee process is a demanding and arduous one.
In celebration of this success, DOVS will hold a special evening to recognize the accomplishments of the nine promotions. Please join me in congratulating those nine individuals listed below.



2015 - Allan Slomovic
2014 - Sam Markowitz
2013 - Rosa Braga-Mele
2013 - Peter Kertes


2015 - Hatem Krema
Associate Professor
2015 - Yaping Jin
Associate Professor
2015 - Edward Margolin
Associate Professor
2014 - Andrew Budning
Associate Professor
    2013 - Michael Brent
     Associate Professor
Featured in this issue:

Spotlight on our Faculty

Behind the Science: DOVS researcher

Dr. Wendy Hatch


Dr. Hatch, an Assistant Professor in the Department, is Research Manager at Kensington Eye Institute (KEI), and Co-Chair of the department’s Quality Improvement Committee.  She is a Torontonian who took her Optometry degree at the University of Waterloo, joined the glaucoma research group at Toronto Western Hospital, and completed her Masters in Vision Science in Waterloo under the direction of Drs. Graham Trope and John Flanagan.  She subsequently embarked on a research career that has included managing and collaborating on clinical trials and on population-based epidemiologic research.  Her work on the provincial Wait Time Strategy and collaborations with investigators at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Science using Ontario-wide data led to publications on rates and complications of cataract surgery in internationally recognized high profile journals. Throughout her career, Dr. Hatch has also continued to see patients as an optometrist in a group practice. 

What do you do in your role at KEI?

I work with our Research Committee to advise and assist ophthalmologists in designing and implementing their research at KEI.   I help investigators launch research projects and oversee the projects once they are up and running. My focus is ensuring that researchers have all the nuts and bolts of running a study in place so that they successfully complete their projects. This includes ensuring the following are in place: ethics approval, a contract and funding, sufficient staff, insurance and allocated space, support for data capture and analysis, and good clinical practice.  I also help ensure that the study participants are well taken care and kept informed.
What major research projects are you currently involved in at KEI?

With Dr. Neera Singal and the team of corneal surgeons and staff, I am studying a group of over 600 participants, examining the feasibility and efficacy of corneal cross-linking for patients with keratoconus and other similar diseases.  We are also collaborating with researchers at the University of Waterloo who are using innovative high resolution imaging to learn more about the disease and cross-linking. Corneal cross-linking can delay or stop the progression of keratoconus. This is important because keratoconus causes vision loss -- 10-20% of keratoconic eyes require a corneal transplant.  If corneal cross-linking can delay or prevent corneal transplants, it will improve the quality of life for these patients. I also suspect corneal cross-linking could provide cost savings to the healthcare system. Dr. Victoria Leung, one of our PGY2s, and I are comparing the cost effectiveness of traditional management of keratoconus without corneal cross-linking, to early intervention with corneal cross-linking. 

Do you have other projects on the go at KEI?

I am one of the leads on the Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI), a new province-wide initiative in partnership with the Ontario Brain Institute. ONDRI is enabling our research team to explore the role of retinal imaging in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.  More than 600 participants will be followed for up to three years with assessments for genomics, gait and balance, eye tracking, retinal imaging, neuropsychology, and neuroimaging.   This work will help us to determine  if retinal imaging can be used as a biomarker to predict neurodegenerative disease.  It is very exciting to be involved in a large multi-centred, multi-disciplinary trial, collaborating with over 50 clinicians and researchers at 13 sites.

You are also interested in Quality Improvement, aren't you?

Yes. In 1999, Quality Improvement (QI) became widely recognized when the Institute of Medicine in the US released a report, "To Err is Human", which claimed that, every year in the US, between 44,000 and 98,000 patients die in hospital from preventable medical errors, which is the equivalent of one jumbo jet crashing every day.

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine released its report "Crossing the Quality Chasm", which identifies six Domains of Quality.  The six domains are: providing patient care which is Safe, Effective, Patient-centred, Timely, Efficient and Equitable.

In 2010, Ontario's Ministry of Health and Longterm Care passed the Excellent Care for All Act, which stipulates that every hospital must publicly release an annual Quality Improvement Plan.  QI is now a recognized academic career track, with QI research being published in the highest profile journals in the world.

When did you become interested in Quality Improvement?

My interest began about seven years ago, when I started teaching QI to the PGY4s.  Because the residents' training involves many sites and supervisors, I find the residents have a unique opportunity to identify problems.  It is very rewarding to see them make a change that leads to improved patient care and safety.

What are the goals of the Quality Improvement Committee?

Under the leadership of Dr. Alan Berger, our QI Committee will help the Department develop a new group of academic teachers  who are skilled in implementing  and evaluating improvement.  With Dr. Nancy Epstein as Co-Chair, we are bringing in guest speakers with special expertise in QI for Department-wide rounds,  and to conduct co-curricular workshops for residents and faculty who are interested in learning more about this new area of research.  We expect these educational activities will lead to more QI projects and publications within the department, which will translate into improved patient care and safety.


Residents' Retreat

The 5th annual University of Toronto Ophthalmology Residents Retreat took place September 11-13th in Haliburton, Ontario. The retreat is a unique opportunity that promotes resident wellness, bonding, and professional development.

This year, the residents received outstanding talks from esteemed faculty: Dr. Randy Gangbar, an academic psychiatrist, discussed the impact of residency on personal and family life; Dr. Deepa Yoganathan briefed the residents on the fellowship application process, with particular attention to American programs; Dr. David Yan discussed practice models, co-management, and life after training. Finally, Dr. Rootman led a memorable (device-free) 1 hour session on mindfulness (and mindlessness).

The residents then showed no fear in conquering natural rock wall climbing and a high ropes tree trekking course! Residents were certainly outside their comfort zone, but the group was supportive and smiles abounded! A special thank you to Ziad Butty and Stephan Ong-Tone for organizing the weekend. We'd also like to thank our guest speakers, and the Department of Ophthalmology for supporting this weekend. It is a privilege and we appreciate it.

Upcoming Events

October / November 2015

October 1, 2015
VPP Rounds (Research Seminar Series)
Corneal Neurotization
Drs. Gregory Borschel & Asim Ali
October 15, 2015
VPP Rounds (Research Seminar Series)
Drs. Ben Thompson & Agnes Wong

October 22, 2015
VPP Rounds - Plastics
Seven Orbital Ages of Man
Dr. Robert Weatherhead

November 6, 2015
DOVS Faculty Research Day
Li Ka Shing Institute, St. Michael's Hospital
November 15, 2015
Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences (DOVS) Alumnus Reception
Neopolitan 3 Room
Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Blvd S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

November 26, 2015
CanMEDS Grand Rounds
Dr. Phil Hebert

Full Upcoming Calendar and Events

Honours and Awards

Dr. Neeru Gupta, Glaucoma Section Editor of CJO

Congratulations to Dr. Neeru Gupta who is recently appointed Glaucoma Section Editor of Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology (CJO). Also, Dr. Gupta has been cross-appointed to the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Wai-Ching Lam, recipient and mentor of GOAP Awards

Congratulations to Dr. Wai-Ching Lam who is the recipient and mentor of three consecutive years of Fellowship Awards from Bayer’s GLOBAL OPHTHALMOLOGY AWARD PROGRAMME.

GOAP 2015 – Dr. Abhishek Sharma “Scleral transillumination compared with ultrasound biomicroscopy: An analysis of surface landmarks for safe sclerostomy in young children”  ($43,905)
GOAP 2014 – Dr. Jonathan Park  “Is a specific defensing gene profile associated with endophthalmitis following a variety of intraocular procedures”  ($ 35,295)
GOAP 2013 – Dr. Pear Pongsachareonnont “Neovascular AMD: Intraocular and plasma inflammatory cytokines in the non responder to ranibizumab treatment”  ($49,150)


Congratulations to Nouf Al Farsi, our PGY3 resident and her husband Nasser on the birth of their baby daughter, weighing 7 lbs on Friday, September 25, 2015. Mohammed is proud to become a big brother. He is a little jealous so he wanted to be in the picture with his sister as well.


Recent Publications

Recent publications by DOVS Faculty, Staff, Residents and Fellows

September 2015

Basilious A, Buys YM.  A woman with a family history of glaucoma.  CMAJ. 2015 Sep 8;187(12):899-900. Epub 2015 Jan 5.

Beiko GH. A pilot study to determine if intraocular lens choice at the time of cataract surgery has an impact on patient-reported driving habits. Clin Ophthalmol. 2015; 9: 1573-9.

Belliveau MJ, Jakubovic BD, Mahendira D, Jakubovic HR, Nijhawan N. Necrotizing eyelid inflammation heralding granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Am J Med. 2015 Sep 22.  [Epub ahead of print]

Butty Z, Gopwani J, Mehta S, Margolin E. Horner's syndrome in patients admitted to the intensive care unit that have undergone central venous catheterization: a prospective study. Eye (Lond). 2015 Sep 18 [Epub ahead of print]

Cheng J, Beltran-Agullo L, Buys YM, Moss EB, Gonzalez J, Trope GE. Flow Test to Predict Early Hypotony and Hypertensive Phase After Ahmed Glaucoma Valve (AGV) Surgical Implantation. J Glaucoma. 2015 Sep 14. [Epub ahead of print]

Collignon O, Dormal G, de Heering A, Lepore F, Lewis TL, Maurer D.  Long-Lasting Crossmodal Cortical Reorganization Triggered by Brief Postnatal Visual Deprivation. Curr Biol. 2015 Sep 21;25(18):2379-83. Epub 2015 Aug 20.

Giaschi D, Chapman C, Meier K, Narasimhan S, Regan D. The effect of occlusion therapy on motion perception deficits in amblyopia. Vision Res. 2015 Sep;114:122-34. Epub 2015 Jun 4.

Hong CJ, Trope GE. Glaucoma. CMAJ. 2015 Sep 8;187(12):E398-9. Epub 2014 Nov 24.
Leung V, Quigley L, Lam WC, Cavalcanti R, Hodges B. Clinical efficiency and resident education: a fine balance. Postgrad Med J. 2015 Sep;91(1079):475-6.Epub 2015 Aug 31. 
Schlenker MB, Thiruchelvam D, Redelmeier DA. Intravitreal Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Treatment and the Risk of Thromboembolism. Am J Ophthalmol. 2015 Sep;160(3):569-580.e5. Epub 2015 Jun 23.
Squissato V, Yucel YH, Richardson SE, Alkhotani A, Wong DT, Nijhawan N, Chan CC. Colletotrichum truncatum species complex: Treatment considerations and review of the literature for an unusual pathogen causing fungal keratitis and endophthalmitis. Med Mycol Case Rep. 2015 Jun 5;9:1-6.eCollection 2015 Sep.

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