Cornea

Cornea and External Disease Fellowship

Wills Eye, one of the premier eye hospitals in the country, is affiliated with, and is on the medical campus of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Medical Center. Both the Wills Eye residency program and numerous subspecialty fellowships are highly sought after. We are very proud of our fellowship (over 50 years old) and our former fellows (almost 200). Our Cornea Fellowship Program participates with the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology Fellowship Compliance Committee (AUPO FCC).

Full fellowship information at links below. 

  • Overview- Cornea and External Disease Fellowship

    The Cornea and External Disease fellowship is one-year in duration, beginning the first week of July and ending the last week of June the following year. We have three full-time fellows who perform surgery and one or more research fellows, typically from outside the United States. The fellowship is primarily patient care oriented with significant clinical research opportunities. Beginning in July 2015, the fellowship has been based in the Corneal Associates practice of Drs. Rapuano, Hammersmith, Nagra at Wills Eye, and the Ophthalmic Partners of Pennsylvania practice of Drs. Raber and Ayres. Fellows spend 2/3 of their time with the Corneal Associates team and 1/3 of their time with Ophthalmic Partners. In total we see about 500 patients a week. The fellows examine the patients after which the staff physician will see each patient and review the fellows’ evaluation. There are 6 other active cornea specialists on the Cornea Service with whom the fellows interact. In addition, the fellows are occasionally involved in staffing the resident Cornea Clinic.

    The practices of Corneal Associates and Ophthalmic Partners specialize in corneal transplantation, external disease and contact lens problems. They are also actively involved in refractive surgery, primarily with the excimer laser. There is also a Mucous Membrane Pemphigoid Clinic one afternoon a month staffed by Drs. Irving Raber and Kristin Hammersmith from Cornea, and Drs. Robert Penne and Michael Rabinowitz from Oculoplastics, as well as Dr. JP Dunn from the Uveitis Department.

    Corneal Associates and Ophthalmic Partners perform over 450 corneal transplants, including PKs, DSEKs, DMEKs and DALKS, at Wills Eye each year. Wills has an Intralase femtosecond laser in our laser suite for IEKs and Intacs. In addition, many other cornea and anterior segment procedures are performed including secondary intraocular implants, intraocular lens exchanges, anterior segment reconstructions, temporary and permanent keratoprostheses, pterygium/conjunctival tumor excisions and others. Refractive surgery for astigmatism following keratoplasties are also performed. The fellows assist on cases performed by the Corneal Associates and Ophthalmic Partners doctors at Wills and in the Wills Main Line Surgicenter.

    The first year of our Combined Cornea Fellowship was an unqualified success! Each fellow completed 35-45 DSEKS, 35-45 PKs, 5-10 DMEKs and 5-10 K-pros as primary surgeon and performed parts of 50 to 60 or more other corneal transplants and various other surgical procedures, including some cataract surgery. Interested fellows can also perform refractive surgery, primarily PRK and LASIK, under supervision of the Corneal Associates and Ophthalmic Partners doctors in the Wills Eye Laser Suite.

    The Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley provides corneal tissue to the Cornea Service at Wills Eye. The fellows get firsthand experience in evaluating corneal tissue and spend some time at the Eye Bank. 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 cornea fellowship. Prospective studies involving new medications and therapies are often ongoing. The Cornea Service has a Humphrey corneal topography analyzer, a Pentacam tomographer, a Zeiss Anterior Segment OCT and an ORA unit, and several projects utilize these machines.

    The Cornea Service works closely with Dr. Ralph Eagle and the Pathology Department on various projects. Also, the Cornea Service meets with Dr. Eagle to review interesting pathologic specimens every three months. A Cornea Journal Club, run by Dr. Hammersmith and the fellows, meets 6 times a year.

    Call from home for the Corneal Fellowship is divided by the three clinical fellows on a weekly basis. At the same time, the Cornea Fellow may also be on call for the Wills Eye Emergency Department. 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. The cornea fellow in turn has a Cornea Service staff member on call if needed. There are occasionally in-patients at any given time, usually with corneal trauma, infection, or post-operative patients. 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 Annual Alumni Conference in the spring, and are encouraged to present their research at ASCRS, ARVO, AAO, 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 diversity of cornea and external disease patients (and consequently a sizable and diverse surgical population), there is also an opportunity for a wide variety of research projects.
    Cornea fellows may also give talks to the residents or medical students during the year, and teach Jefferson medical students who rotate through the Wills Eye 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 and supportive environment.

    For information, please contact Katie Whittaker at (215) 928-3172.

  • Clinical Fellowship Program Requirements

    Our Cornea Fellowship Program is accredited by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology Fellowship Compliance Committee (AUPO FCC) of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

    The deadline for completed Clinical Fellowship Applications is August 31st of each year. Only completed applications will be considered for interviews.

    If you are interested in our Clinical Fellowship Program in Cornea & External Disease, which begins each year in July, please complete and return the following:

    • Apply through the San Francisco Fellowship Match Program. This application includes your personal statement and three letters of recommendation (one to inlcude your residency program director and/or Chair, Department of Ophthalmology).

    In addition to the SF Match application, the following supplemental items are required:

    • Official transcripts from all colleges and medical schools attended, sent either from the schools to us directly, or an official, sealed transcript with the school registrar's signature sent to us by the applicant.
    • Photocopy of your Score report for NBME or USMLE All Steps 1, 2 & 3, or Flex both parts.
    • Current curriculum vitae.
    • Small photograph.
     
  • Cornea Research Fellowship Program Requirements

    If you are interested in our Research Fellowship Program in Cornea & External Disease, please compete and return the following:

    • Application Form (Download)
    • Brief (one page) statement  about your professional goals and proposed activities during the period.
    • Photocopy of your score report for USMLE [all steps] 1, 2, & 3 if J-1 sponsored.
    • Current curriculum vitae
    • Small photograph

    Applicants should also arrange for the following:

    • Official transcripts from all colleges and medical schools attended, sent either from the schools to us directly, or an official, sealed transcript with the school registrar's signature sent to us by the applicant.
    • Letters of recommendation should be sent by at least three professional associates (one to include your residency program director and/or the Chair, Department of Ophthalmology).

    Research fellowship applications will be reviewed year round and scheduled subject to availability.

For more information: Contact Kate Whittaker - 215-928-3172