Dr. Mark Blumenkranz established the Ophthalmic Innovation Program at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford—the first of its kind nationally—in 2016. The Program is an immersive, year-long didactic and project-based fellowship in the conceptualization and implementation of technology to improve eye care. The Program aims to teach participants to advance innovative eye care solutions for important unmet needs and to thereby improve the lives of people living with vision loss and eye disease.
The Ophthalmic Innovation Program teaches the basic principles that facilitate the introduction of products and technical advances into clinical practice: regulatory science, clinical trial design, strategic decision making, reimbursement, protection of intellectual property, and the development of a high-performance organizational structure – topics not taught in medical school or in residency but are critical for successful medical innovation.
Faculty and fellows from the Ophthalmic Innovation Program have been involved as planning committee members, panelists, and speakers on national workshops and meetings led in conjunction with the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, including the October 2017 FDA workshop on Ophthalmic Digital Health and the April 2019 Forum on Laser-based Eye Imaging. Program participants have also been integrally involved in the Collaborative Community on Ophthalmic Imaging that was formed in response to a formal public call for proposals by the FDA.
On September 3 and 4, the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, as the convening center for the Collaborative Community on Ophthalmic Imaging (CCOI), co-hosted a two-day virtual conference on “The Future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enabled Ophthalmic Imaging.”
A Tradition of Successful Innovation
Clinician-scientists and basic researchers at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford have a rich tradition in ophthalmic innovation. Over the past several decades Stanford Ophthalmology faculty have led the way toward a number of ground breaking discoveries and technologies, many of which have been out-licensed through the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing and served as the foundation for the establishment of innovative Silicon Valley companies that translated them into practice-altering commercial products. These technologies are in various stages of evolution ranging from pre-clinical studies to full FDA approval, and have provided the roots for a number of free-standing, venture-backed companies, including Optimedica (which developed the PASCAL and Catalys laser and was acquired by AMO), PEAK Surgical (plasma-mediated surgical tools, acquired by Medtronic), Oculeve (neurostimulation devices for dry eye, acquired by Allergan), Adverum Biotechnologies (gene therapy, NASDAQ:ADVM), Pixium (artificial retinal prosthesis) and Verana Health (data science). Millions of patients worldwide have been impacted by technologies developed by inventors from Stanford Ophthalmology.
We are honored that the Byers family established the Byers Family Ophthalmic Innovation Fellowship. Brook Byers, founding member of Kleiner Perkins and legendary Silicon Valley life science investor, has been a long-time Stanford supporter and advisor, and also serves as a mentor to Innovation Fellows. Thanks to this generosity, the Byers Ophthalmic Innovation Fellow receives training in the sequential stages of development necessary for successful commercialization and adoption into patient care. The Program includes formal academic and project-based instruction including formal coursework; close mentorship and regular seminars on ophthalmic innovation by experts from academia and industry; workshops on regulatory science with leading professional societies and the FDA; networking and internship opportunities with members of the Department of Ophthalmology, other Stanford departments, Silicon Valley innovators, and colleagues at the FDA; and hands-on collaborative projects carried out longitudinally throughout the fellowship year.
Stanford University and the Department of Ophthalmology have existing collaborative educational and research programs in place with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the area of regulatory science. Fellows have the opportunity to participate in projects within these programs during the course of the year.
The Stanford Ophthalmic Innovation Program is affiliated with the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. Byers Ophthalmic Innovation Fellows have the opportunity to apply for the two-quarter Biodesign Innovation Course (BioE 274A/B) and participate in selected other Stanford educational programs in these basic areas offered by the university. For more information about Biodesign, please visit biodesign.stanford.edu.
HOW TO APPLY
Applications are now open and due no later than June 30, 2021 to be considered for the 2022-2023 academic year program.
Please send a CV and a 1-page personal statement that includes goals for the year and for your career following the fellowship, as well as any questions, to the Byers Family Ophthalmic Innovation Fellowship, c/o Katie Majchrzak: email@example.com.
Candidate Selection Criteria
The timeframe of the fellowship is intended to be 12 months, typically from July 1 to June 30. Candidates with one or more of the following will be given strong consideration (encouraged but not required):
· Ophthalmology residency or fellowship training
· MD and/or PhD in areas with relevance to vision science (including but not limited to neuroscience, molecular/cellular biology, biophysics, biochemistry, chemistry, engineering, computer science, or related disciplines)
· MBA and/or Masters' degree in science or engineering with industry experience
· Other significant experience in ophthalmic (or related) research and innovation in industry or academic institutions
· A clearly expressed passion for and ideas towards transforming eye care
Honoring Mark S. Blumenkranz, MD
In recognition of Dr. Blumenkranz’s pivotal role in fostering ophthalmic innovation and for teaching the principles for successfully moving those innovations into patient care, we have established The Mark Blumenkranz Ophthalmic Innovation Endowed Fund. Endowment funding will ensure long term sustainable funding for this important program. Please consider recognizing Dr. Blumenkranz and ensuring the future of this program through your generous support.
Byers Ophthalmic Innovation Fellows
2020-2021 OPHTHALMIC INNOVATION FELLOW
Michael Mbagwu, MD
Dr. Mbagwu completed his ophthalmology residency at Northwestern University and a transitional year internship at Presence Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago. He completed his MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. During that time, he had the opportunity to complete a grant-supported research year serving as Lead Project Coordinator for a National Eye Institute-funded study. He helped develop clinical data mining tools to characterize disparities in eye care using an assembly of electronic health records from several health care institutions in the Chicagoland area. This also gave him an interest in further exploring the intersection of technology, innovation, and healthcare delivery. Dr. Mbagwu attended The Ohio State University for his undergraduate studies, where he developed his deep interest in Big Data/informatics, working at several institutions including the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Harvard/Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Stanford University on a variety of data-driven research projects. In his free time, Dr. Mbagwu enjoys running, travel, and watching college football.
2019-2020 OPHTHALMIC INNOVATION FELLOW
Aaron Webel, MD, MBA
Aaron Webel, MD, MBA is the current 2019-2020 Ophthalmic Innovation Fellow. He recently finished his clinical glaucoma fellowship at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and prior to that completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Florida. He is a graduate of the MD/MBA dual degree program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Kenan-Flagler Business School. He joined Hatteras Venture Partners in Durham, NC as the Discovery Fellow where he provided strategic ophthalmic disease target recommendations for the novel injection technology developed by one of their ophthalmology portfolio companies. He has a keen interest in ophthalmic medical device research and was recently a co-principal investigator on a University of Florida Opportunity Seed Fund grant to develop a novel implantable thin-film intraocular pressure sensor. Aaron’s current interests include development of minimally invasive glaucoma drainage device technologies with a goal of greater predictability and lower failure rates than current glaucoma surgical modalities. In his spare time, he enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and exploring the Bay Area with his wife Mackenzie and two daughters, Alta and Berit.
2018-2019 OPHTHALMIC INNOVATION FELLOW
Frank Brodie, MD, MBA
Frank Brodie, MD, MBA joined the Department of Ophthalmology as the 2018-19 Innovation Fellow. He completed his Ophthalmology residency at the University of California San Francisco. Prior to that, Frank was at Harbor UCLA for an internal medicine internship. He completed his MD and MBA at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Wharton School respectively. Frank is very active in translational research; during his residency, in conjunction with Caltech, he developed a device to assist patient head-positioning correctly after intraocular surgery. Frank also developed a system to provide custom glasses for children with craniofacial malformations using advance imaging technology coupled with 3D printing. Additionally, he has been working with scientists at Caltech to develop a novel method to prevent amblyopia and glaucoma in children born with congenital cataracts.
2017-2018 OPHTHALMIC INNOVATION FELLOW
Alexander Kreymerman, MS, PhD
Alexander Kreymerman holds an MS in molecular biology, a PhD in neuroscience, and has received scientific training within ophthalmology departments at University of Miami, University of California San Diego, and Stanford University. His major research projects and professional interests are focused on retinal regeneration and neuroprotection, the development of novel, high resolution, and minimally invasive intraoperative imaging and microscopy devices, as well as gene therapy, stem cells, and drug development for ocular pathologies. As the Innovation Fellow in the ophthalmology department, Alex pushed forward research that focused on gene therapy and stem cell technology for modeling and designing treatments in retinal dystrophies, as well as intraoperative imaging techniques for retinal and orbital surgery.
2016-2017 OPHTHALMIC INNOVATION FELLOW
Zachary Bodnar, MD
Dr. Bodnar was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a BS in electrical engineering and computer science, followed by a masters of engineering, also in electrical engineering and computer science. He worked for the enterprise software startup Endeca for several years, prior to its acquisition by Oracle, until he matriculated in Dartmouth Medical School where he earned his MD. Dr. Bodnar completed the Ophthalmic Pathology and Research fellowship at the John A. Moran Eye Center, at the University of Utah, internship in general surgery at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix and residency in ophthalmology at Saint Louis University. His academic interests include machine vision, machine learning, digital signal processing and their applications to ophthalmic imaging and medical informatics. Dr. Bodnar was the first ophthalmic innovation fellow and continued on afterward at Stanford as a vitreoretinal fellow, which he completed in 2019.