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Volume 29, Number 4  |  September 2021

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Message from the Chair

September 2021


Dear Colleagues,
It’s hard to believe that we are ushering in the  2021-2022 academic year already; I do hope that you’ve managed to enjoy the summer weather and some recreation over the last 2 months.   New COVID cases have remained below 850 since June 2021, and we have seen our province begin to re-open. While this has caused a small rebound in cases recently, strong vaccination rates of 83.2% (over 12, single-dose) and 76.6% (over 12, fully vaccinated) are cause for cautious optimism, but only if we continue to get the vaccination rates higher.  We are now bracing for the fourth wave, and I hope that we will be able to get control of this coming wave without widespread lockdowns. Because of the uncertainty going forward we will continue all rounds and educational events using Zoom until 2022.  We are still hopeful that the Walter Wright Symposium will be held in person, but that decision will be made as we monitor the situation over the next 6 weeks.  My sincere gratitude to each one of you for continuing to stand strong in the face of these novel, unforeseen stressors and challenges.
Sherif El-Defrawy, MD, PhD, FRCS(C)
Nanji Family Chair in Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences
Chair & Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences
University of Toronto
Featured in this issue:


New appointments

Dr. Brian Ballios

A hearty welcome to Dr. Brian Ballios who has been appointed as clinician-scientist at the Krembil Research Institute, UHN, and Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences of the University of Toronto.  Brian completed his Bachelor of Science in Engineering Chemistry at Queen’s University, focusing on bioengineering and materials science before going on to complete the concurrent MD/PhD Program at U of T.  During his PhD (under the supervision of Dr. Derek van der Kooy and Dr. Molly Shoichet), Dr. Ballios developed new approaches to the transplantation of stem cells and their progeny for the treatment of retinal degeneration. Following his residency here at DOVS, Brian completed a fellowship in Inherited Retinal Disease at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Ballios as he initiates his research program at the Krembil, and clinical research program in inherited retinal disease at KEI, UHN, and Sunnybrook.
Dr. Stephanie Kletke

Dr. Stephanie Kletke is appointed to the Department of Ophthalmology at the Hospital for Sick Children, starting September 1st, 2021.
Stephanie completed her undergraduate studies at Queen’s, medical training at McMaster, and Ophthalmology residency training here in Toronto. In addition to numerous academic and research awards she was awarded the prize for best graduating resident in her year.  She then went on to complete a prestigious fellowship in Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and then finally a year as a Retinoblastoma Fellow here in Toronto. Concurrently with her Retinoblastoma fellowship, she began a Global Clinical Scholars course at Harvard which will provide her with additional background in clinical trials.
In addition to her numerous academic accomplishments, Stephanie is an accomplished musician and athlete.  She has always had a passion for the care of retinoblastoma patients, and will join the RB team as a part-time (0.3 FTE) ophthalmologist. She will maintain an outside clinical practice in paediatric ophthalmology and strabismus.

Chief Residents' Report

by Drs. Eli Kisilevsky and Jason Kwok
The summer marks an end and a new beginning in residency. We said goodbye to the graduating year as they went off to practice and fellowships and we welcomed the new incoming PGY1 including Prem Nichani, Sonia Anchouche, Ana Kabanovski, Jenny Ma, Minawer Abudu and Waleed Alsarhani. Summer teaching sessions have always provided a unique opportunity for inviting speakers to teach residents. The transition to zoom based teaching allowed us to invite a wide range of speakers from Toronto, the east coast, the US and Israel. Dr. Berger explored retina cases with the residents, Dr. Braga-Mele and Dr. Weisbrod shared cataract pearls, and fellows shared their experiences in retina, oculoplastics and cornea. Dr. Roberts from New Brunswick shared his tips on practice management and Dr. Gupta from Nova Scotia shared his insights on life and practice. Dr. Devgan from Los Angeles discussed his experience with and Dr. Mimouni, a previous cornea fellow with Drs. Slomovic and Rootman, gave a 5 part series of lectures, sharing his insights on manuscript writing and statistical analysis. Even with such a full schedule the residents were able to safely meet outdoors at Trinity Bellwoods park for social rounds, competing against each other in a series of challenges meant to test their ingenuity, creativity and physical ability. The relaxation of restrictions has also allowed for many celebrations in the resident body including 3 weddings and a birth of a baby girl. Kirill Zaslavsky, PGY3, Seema Emami, PGY4, and Michael Nguyen, PGY4, all celebrated their nuptials over the summer and Shaobo Lei, PGY5 has welcomed his new baby girl, Alexia. Now the residents are ready to tackle the academic year with renewed spirits.

University of Toronto/Kensington Health Ophthalmology Cytokine and Imaging Laboratory

Medical Director: Dr. Rajeev Muni
Manager of Research Operations: Mano Chandrakumar
As medicine transitions to personalized healthcare, there will be increasing interest in novel biomarkers that can predict disease severity and treatment response. We believe that ocular fluid cytokine levels together with novel imaging biomarkers may provide valuable information that can help manage a variety of ocular diseases. Our goal is to obtain a molecular fingerprint that together with imaging and clinical data can enable truly individualized care in various key areas in ophthalmology.  To this extent, the University of Toronto Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences and the Kensington Research Institute have established the Ophthalmology Biobank. The Biobank will store ocular fluid samples from a variety of patients undergoing procedures and surgeries.  This unique Ophthalmology Cytokine and Imaging Laboratory at Kensington Eye Institute will primarily focus on cytokine analysis from ocular fluids and the development and validation of novel imaging biomarkers.  This laboratory is one of a kind in Canada and likely the world with specialized equipment to measure ocular fluid cytokines with multiplex immunoassays and the latest imaging tools such as an adaptive optics retinal camera. The Cytokine & Imaging Lab together with the Biobank will support the development of tools and protocols to analyze ocular fluids and assess the associations with a variety of clinical outcomes. Initial studies and protocols have been developed for a variety of retinal and corneal diseases with a planned rapid expansion to all areas in ophthalmology. We feel strongly that research from this lab will lead to better patient outcomes with targeted delivery of health care that is also cost-effective.

Sunnybrook Hospital Report

by: Dr. Kenneth Eng, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Sunnybrook Hospital

Dr. Catherine Birt was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in the spring and continues a long tradition of training fellows from around the world and conducting clinical research in the field of glaucoma.

Dr. Brian Ballios, another clinician-scientist with a lab at UHN, will be spending some of his clinical time at Sunnybrook.  With a fellowship in Inherited Retinal Diseases, Dr. Ballios will join Drs. Kertes and Kohly in offering patients eagerly anticipated and newly-approved gene therapy (Luxturna) in the near future as the only English-Canada site offering this treatment for adults.

Dr. Edsel Ing has resumed his role at Sunnybrook and will be staffing clinics and performing oculoplastics and orbital surgery beginning this fall.  Given his extensive training and background in both oculoplastics and neuro-ophthalmology (and strabismus), the department looks forward to his wealth of knowledge, experience, and teaching excellence.

The department continues to excel in the field of undergraduate education with some of the highest Rotation and Teacher Effectiveness Scores at Sunnybrook for the last reported academic year.​

Henry S. Farrugia Ophthalmic Research Fund

From left to right: Henry Farrugia and long-time partner Rosemary Hodgins
The Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences is honoured to announce that Henry Farrugia has generously committed a five-year pledge of $210,000 to top up his endowment, the Henry S. Farrugia Ophthalmic Research Fund that was established in 2003 to further the future of vision sciences. With an endowment now valued at just over $1 million, the fund supports research in the Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences led by Dr. Yeni Yucel’s research team.

Honours, Awards & Grants

Dr. Yvonne Buys receives American Glaucoma Society International Scholar Award 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Yvonne Buys on receiving the prestigious 2022 American Glaucoma Society (AGS) International Scholar Award, which recognizes leaders, mentors, and major contributors in Glaucoma. She will be receiving the award in Nashville, TN in March 2022.  Dr. Buys continues to be very active in ophthalmic research and our national society in spite of retiring from clinical practice. 

Dr. Buys is also very active in Prince Edward County not only though her involvement with service organizations and charitable work in the community but on her farm where she raises chickens, pigs and rabbits.  She is also an apiarist and makes her own honey.


Dr. Rajeev Muni appointed to the editorial board of Ophthalmology Science

Congratulations to Dr. Rajeev Muni, who is appointed to the editorial board of Ophthalmology Science, a new journal by the AAO.
Alsarhani, Waleed:
  • ARVO International Travel Grant 2021

Choudhry, Netan:
  • Pereira A, Choudhry N: Canadian Ophthalmological Society 2021 Lions Lair 2nd Place Award: $25,000 / Project: Multi-Centre Validation of a Deep Learning Model to Conduct Automated Segmentation of Swept-Source OCT Images for Macular Hole Volume
Ong Tone, Stephan: Reber, Michael:
  • BrightFocus Foundation: Standard Award Program in National Glaucoma Research / Project: Sensing elevated intra‐ocular pressure in mouse models of glaucoma: potential role of Piezos channels. US$200,000.
Stein, Rebecca:
  • Factors Affecting Haze after Accelerated Corneal Crosslinking Measured with Scheimflug-Derived Corneal Densitometry’. Honorable Mention, Cornea. ASCRS 2021.

Invited Lectures and Visiting Professorships

Buys, Yvonne:
  • Im J, Trope GE, Buys YM, Yan P, Brent MH, El-Defrawy S, Liu SY, Jin YP: Trends in prevalence of self-reported visual impairment in Canadians with and without diabetes: findings from population-based surveys from 1994 to 2014. Canadian Ophthalmological Society Annual Meeting, June 25, 2021, Canada
  • Leibovitzh GI, Tarita-Nistor L, Buys YM, Trope GE: Impairments in perceptual grouping during binocular rivalry in mild glaucoma. Canadian Ophthalmological Society Annual Meeting, June 26, 2021, Canada.
  • Felfeli T, Canizares M, Jin YP, Buys YM: Pay gap amongst female and male ophthalmologists compared to surgical and medical specialty groups across three decades. Canadian Ophthalmological Society Annual Meeting, June 24-27, 2021, Canada.
  • Buys YM: MIGS – Economics and Ethics. 9th World Glaucoma E-Congress. July 1, 2021, Japan.
  • Buys YM: Pay gap among Female and Male Ophthalmologists. Women Trainees in Ophthalmology, University of Ottawa Eye Institute. August 10, 2021, Ottawa, Ontario.

Choudhry, Netan:
  • Feasibility & Clinical Utility of Peripheral OCT Imaging using a Novel Integrated SLO-Ultra-widefield Imaging Full Field Swept-Source OCT,  Annual International Retinal Imaging Symposium 2021, University of Southern California Los Angeles, USA, June 26th 2021 (Invited Lecturer)
  • Vitrectomy for Macular Holes, Annual Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellows Course, Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary Harvard Medical School, July 30th, 2021 (Invited Lecturer)

Hurwitz, Jeffrey:
  • “Lacrimal considerations in calaract surgery “, “Tearing due to Lower Lid Laxity”, Michigan Ophthalmology Society, July 10, 2021 (Invited Lecturer)


Congratulations to Dr. Kirill Zaslavsky (PYG3) and Courtney Firestone on their wedding  at The Royal Ashburn on August 1st, 2021.
Dr. Seema Emami (PGY4) and Arthur Talbot-Kelly, her partner of 11 years, were married at a family cottage near Perth, Ontario on August 21st 2021.  Congratulations!
Congratulations to Dr. Michael Nguyen (PGY4) and Brina Alsmeyer, who celebrated their marriage at the scenic mountains of Canmore, Alberta on August 31st, 2021.


Congratulations to Ann Whelan and Neil on the birth of their baby girl, Faye Nina Whelan, on May 2nd, 2021.
Congratulations to Dr. Rebecca Stein on the birth of her baby boy, Rafael Aaron Weizel, on July 28th, 2021.
Congratulations to Dr. Shaobo Lei (PGY5) in welcoming his baby daughter, Alexia!
Congratulations to Ashiya Chawala on the birth of her baby girl, Sanaya, on August 7th, 2021.

Online Rounds Schedule and Events

Date: September 17, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Title: Ophthalmology Workforce: Forecast for Ontario
Speaker: Dr. Sherif El-Defrawy

Date: September 21, 2021
Vision Science Research Program/DKJ Eye Institute - KRI Virtual Seminar Series
Title: Multisensory Integration: Development, Plasticity, and Translational Applications
Speaker: Benjamin A. Rowland PhD, Professor, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Date: September 23, 2021
DOVS Cornea Learning Series

Topic: Pars Plana Vitrectomy for The Anterior Segment Surgeon
Speaker: Dr. Sadeer Hannush

Date: September 24, 2021
EDI / VPP Rounds
Title: Can you handle the truth? Health, Racism, and Black Lives
Speaker: Dr. Onye Nnorom

Date: September 27, 2021
DOVS Oncology Rounds
Lesions and Images in Ophthalmic Oncology
Speaker: TBA

Date: October 1, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic: COVID-19 and neuro-ophthalmology: what have we seen and what have we learned
Speakers: Drs. Edward Margolin and Jonathan Micieli

Date: October 8, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic:  Oculoplastics
Speaker: Dr. Imran Jivraj

Date: October 15, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic: Anterior Segment / Cornea
Speaker: Dr. Hall Chew

Date: October 22, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic: Uveitis
Speaker: Dr. Panos Christakis

Date: October 29, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic: Retina
Speaker: Dr. Peng Yan

Date: November 5, 2021
EDI Rounds / VPP
Title: TBA
Speaker: Drs. Indra Narang and Nupura Bakshi

Date: November 12-15, 2021
American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Meeting
New Orleans, LA

Date: November 19, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic: Glaucoma
Speaker: Dr. Catherine Birt

Date: December 3-4, 2021
Walter Wright Day

Date: December 10, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic: TBA
Speakers: TBA

Date: December 17, 2021
Grand Rounds / VPP
Topic: Paediatrics
Speaker: Dr. Elise Heon

* Schedule subject to change

For latest details and links, please visit:

Full Upcoming Calendar and Events

Recent Publications

Recent publications by DOVS Faculty, Staff, Residents and Fellows

July 2021
August 2021
Felfeli T, Buys Y: Equity: Facts and Future. What do we know about the pay and practice disparity amongst male and female ophthalmologists? The Ophthalmologist, 08/13/2021. Available at

Fidler LM, Balter M, Fisher JH, Stanbrook MB, To T, Kohly R, Gershon AS. Ophthalmologic assessments in patients with newly diagnosed sarcoidosis: An observational study from a universal healthcare system.
Respir Med. 2021 Aug 13;187:106575. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2021.106575. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34438352

Gurdita A, Nickerson PEB, Pokrajac NT, Ortín-Martínez A, Samuel Tsai EL, Comanita L, Yan NE, Dolati P, Tachibana N, Liu ZC, Pearson JD, Chen D, Bremner R, Wallace VA.
InVision: An optimized tissue clearing approach for three-dimensional imaging and analysis of intact rodent eyes. iScience. 2021 Jul 26;24(8):102905. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102905. eCollection 2021 Aug 20. PMID: 34430805

Ing E, Tyndel F, Tang J, Marotta T, R: Carotid Cavernous Sinus Fistula with Contralateral Feed Not Diagnosed by Virtual Assessment or by Non-Invasive Vascular Imaging. Case Rep Ophthalmol 2021:712-716. doi: 10.1159/000518806
Pearson JD, Huang K, Pacal M, McCurdy SR, Lu S, Aubry A, Yu T, Wadosky KM, Zhang L, Wang T, Gregorieff A, Ahmad M, Dimaras H, Langille E, Cole SPC, Monnier PP, Lok BH, Tsao MS, Akeno N, Schramek D, Wikenheiser-Brokamp KA, Knudsen ES, Witkiewicz AK, Wrana JL, Goodrich DW, Bremner R. Binary pan-cancer classes with distinct vulnerabilities defined by pro- or anti-cancer YAP/TEAD activity. Cancer Cell. 2021 Aug 9;39(8):1115-1134.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2021.06.016. Epub 2021 Jul 21. PMID: 34270926
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