Making a difference: Dr. Diana Do
Every September the American Medical Association celebrates Women in Medicine Month recognizing women physicians paving the way in their field. Today we feature Stanford ophthalmologist Dr. Diana Do.
Diana Do, MD, professor of ophthalmology, always wanted to pursue a career that would make a difference.
“The medical field appealed to me, but it was ophthalmology that really stood out,” Do said. “Vision is one of our most precious senses and I wanted to play a role in restoring vision and preventing blindness.”
Do is an internationally recognized clinician-scientist and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, rated amongst the top eye institutes in the world.
After earning her medical degree at the University of California San Francisco, Do completed her internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. She pursued ophthalmology residency training and surgical retina fellowship at the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She has authored more than 150 publications and contributed to more than 25 book chapters.
In her clinical care and surgical settings, Do specializes in treating a variety of retinal disorders, including such conditions as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, macular hole, epiretinal membranes, retinal detachment, retinal infections, and vein occlusion.
Do is also renowned for her clinical research in extended duration injectables, toward the goal of reduced treatment frequency, saving untold pain and inconvenience for sufferers of eye diseases which require injectable therapeutics. Do is also a leader in developing new innovations to address the retinal complications arising from serious myopia. Myopia is endemic and growing, expected to afflict more than half the human population by 2050, with extremely high prevalence already existing in east Asia.
“As a mother of three young girls, I want my daughters to grow up believing they can do anything they set their mind to. We can influence younger women with the tools and confidence they need to succeed in any career path.
In her Clinical Affairs leadership role, Do and her colleagues ensure that all patients receive the highest quality medical and surgical care. Do collaborates with the ophthalmology faculty to offer state-of-the-art eye care, from the latest innovations tested in experimental clinical trials program, to first use of the newest therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Clinical trials are where cutting-edge innovations in medical research are developed,” Do said. “Clinical trials research allows new lab discoveries to be translated and accelerated into clinical care, benefiting patients.”
With over 15 years of clinical trial expertise, Do operates a renowned clinical research program serving as principal investigator or co-investigator on more than 45 clinical trials, including first-in-human trials of experimental therapeutics to treat retinal diseases, ocular inflammation, and more. She is currently studying novel treatments for retinal diseases including pacesetting research on extended duration antibodies that will improve treatment for wet AMD and diabetic eye disease. In addition, she collaborates with faculty to investigate therapies for dry AMD.
“Our clinical trials program is at the forefront of vision science, exploring innovative therapies with the potential to save the eyesight of individuals within our community and around the world,” Do said. “Our entire clinical trials team works tirelessly to pursue improved sight-saving therapies for our patients.”
Paving the way for other women
As she seeks to advance vision science, Do also seeks to advance women in medicine.
“It is a privilege to be a physician and surgeon,” Do said, “As a woman in the medical field, I especially strive to be a role model for other young women and girls interested in pursuing a career in medicine.”
The number of women in medicine continues to grow and in 2019 for the first time more than 50% of medical students were women. In ophthalmology, women make up nearly 30% of the field.
Do is a proponent of further diversifying the ophthalmology workforce and her leadership has earned selection by her peers to the prestigious "100 Top Women in Ophthalmology" honor, presented by Ophthalmologist Power List.
“By promoting diversity and inclusion, we are ensuring success for future generations of ophthalmologists and better care for our diverse patients,” Do said. “In addition, greater creativity and problem solving can be achieved with collaboration from a diverse team of professionals.”
Women faculty have spearheaded female mentorship in the department. Andrea Kossler, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, and Carolyn Pan, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, co-founded the Women in Ophthalmology at Stanford (WIOS) to create a network of support, inspiration and belonging for women in vision science at Stanford. Thanks to the generous support by the department, residents, fellows, and faculty attend the women in ophthalmology (WIO) annual symposium each year.
“Attending the WIO symposia with Dr. Do remind me of the gains we have made toward parity in the medical field, but there is still much progress to be made,” Kossler said. “There are obstacles we still face as women in medicine, but I am encouraged by the evolution of women in ophthalmology in both clinical and research settings. It’s cause for celebration, as well as a call to keep change driving forward.”
The department has also played a key role in the WIO symposium. Kossler has served on the organizing committee for the WIO annual symposium since 2018 and was awarded the 2018 WIO Mentorship Award. Do has also received several awards through WIO, and women residents have also won research and scholarship awards over the years.
Do also hopes her actions will have a positive impact on her own daughters.
“As a mother of three young girls, I want my daughters to grow up believing they can do anything they set their mind to,” Do said. “We can influence younger women with the tools and confidence they need to succeed in any career path.”
“Throughout my training and career, I had amazing mentors and people who believed in my potential,” Do said. “I am grateful to work in such a supportive environment at Stanford. From my colleagues to generous donors, I have immense gratitude for the people who share my passion for innovative science and support my goals of eliminating vision threatening eye diseases.”
If you are interested in learning more about Do’s work and how you can support her research efforts, please contact Stanford Ophthalmology gift officer Bob Busch at email@example.com or medicalgiving.stanford.edu and designate your gift to “Dept of Ophthalmology, Dr. Diana Do Research Fund”.
By KATHRYN SILL in collaboration with MEDICAL DEVELOPMENT
Kathryn Sill is a web and communications specialist for the Byers Eye Institute in the Department of Ophthalmology, at Stanford University School of Medicine. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.