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Corneal Associates, PC
840 Walnut Street
Suite 920
Philadelphia, PA 19107-5109

Phone: 215-928-3180
Fax: 215-928-3854

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Past Cornea Fellows

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Wills Eye Institute Cornea and External Disease Fellowship

Wills Eye Institute, one of the premier eye hospitals in the country, is affiliated with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Medical Center, and the two share a medical campus. Both the residency program and numerous subspecialty fellowships are highly sought after.

Specifics of the Fellowship Program

The Corneal and External Disease fellowship is usually one year long, beginning the first week of July and ending the first week of July the following year. Recently there have been three American or Canadian full-time fellows who perform surgery and one or more research fellows, typically from other countries. The fellowship is primarily oriented toward patient care, with significant clinical research opportunities.

The fellowship is based in the Corneal Associates cornea and external disease practice of Drs., Rapuano, Hammersmith, and Nagra, at Wills Eye Institute, who see approximately 300 patients a week. The fellows examine all Corneal Associates patients after which the staff physician will see each patient and review the fellows' evaluation. There are other active cornea specialists on the Cornea Service with whom the fellows work closely. In addition the fellows are involved in staffing the resident Cornea Clinic each afternoon. The clinic visits number about 75 per week.

The practices of Drs. Rapuano, Hammersmith and Nagra, specialize in corneal transplantation, external disease and contact lens problems. Dr. Rapuano and Dr. Nagra are actively involved in refractive surgery, primarily with the excimer laser. There is also an Ocular Cicatricial Pemphigoid Clinic one afternoon a month staffed by Dr. Irving Raber and Dr. Kristin Hammersmith from Cornea, Dr. Robert Penne from Oculoplastics, and a Dermatologist.

Corneal Associates and the rest of the members of the Cornea Service perform over 400 corneal transplants and DSEK at Wills each year. In addition, many other cornea and anterior segment procedures are performed, including secondary intraocular lens implants (including sutured posterior chamber intraocular lenses), intraocular lens exchanges, anterior segment reconstructions, temporary and permanent keratoprostheses, pterygium/conjunctival transplant, amniotic membrane grafts, conjunctival flaps, conjunctival tumor excisions, and others. Refractive surgeries such as relaxing incisions, compression sutures, wedge resections, and radial and astigmatic keratotomies, are also performed. We have access to the most recent surgical equipment available, including a FemtosecondLaser for insertion of Intacs and for corneal transplants.

The fellows assist on all cases performed by the members of the Cornea Service. By the end of the fellowship, each fellow has typically completed 20 to 40 corneal transplants from start to finish and has performed parts of 50 to 60 other corneal transplants and various other surgical procedures.

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The Delaware Valley Eye Bank provides corneal tissue to the Cornea Service at Wills. The fellows get firsthand experience in evaluating corneal tissue. The Eye Bank also provides the fellows with practice eyes on which to advance their surgical skills and try new techniques.

Clinical research is an important part of the corneal fellowship. Sometime during the week may be provided for research time. A database of all corneal transplants performed by Corneal Associates since 1983 is available and has been used extensively for projects. Prospective studies involving new medications and therapies are always ongoing. The Cornea Service has an EyeSys corneal topography analyzer and several projects utilize this machine.

Call from home for Corneal Associates is divided by the three primary fellows on a weekly basis. At the same time, the Corneal fellow is also on call for the Wills emergency room. There, the ophthalmology resident on call will evaluate the patient and call the Cornea fellow for advice over the phone or to come in and see the patient. The fellows also assist the residents in the repair of anterior segment trauma. In turn, the Cornea fellow has a Cornea Service staff member on call if needed. There are typically one to three in-patients at any given time, usually with corneal trauma, infection, or needing post-operative care. The fellows follow these patients every morning on rounds with the Cornea staff.

The fellows are expected to present a project at the Wills Eye Institute Annual Conference in the spring, and are encouraged to present their research at ASCRS, ARVO, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Cornea Society, EBAA, or CLAO meetings. While the strength of the fellowship lies in the clinical evaluation and management of the large number and variety of cornea and external disease patients (and consequently a sizable and diverse surgical population), there is also an opportunity for basic scientific research. There is an active immunology and molecular genetics laboratory at Wills. There is also the Thomas Jefferson University Research Center, where the animal research facility is housed along with numerous basic science laboratories.

Cornea fellows also give talks to the residents or medical students during the year, and teach Jefferson medical students who rotate through the Wills Cornea Service.

We feel our Cornea and External Disease Fellowship is one of the finest in the country. We are especially happy to be able to offer it in such a friendly, receptive environment.

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Clinical Fellowship Program Requirements

If you are interested in our Clinical Fellowship Program in Cornea & External Disease to begin July 1. We only accept applications through the San Francisco Match program. Instruction on how to initiate this application can be found at http://www.sfmatch.org/fellowship/f_ophthalmology.

Research fellowship applications will be reviewed year round. Fellowships are subject to availability. Applicants for research fellowships should contact Bernadette Bishop, Fellowship Coordinator at 215-928-3172 or via e-mail at fellowship@willseye.org.

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