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UAB pilot program brings glaucoma screenings closer to home

Compassionate neuro-ophthalmology care

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Jennifer Doyle, M.D., a graduate of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology residency program, wrestled with the same tough decision that confronts many medical trainees. She’d known since a 10th grade shadowing project that she wanted to be a doctor, but what kind of doctor was a harder question to answer.

An Arkansas native, Doyle attended medical school at the University of Arkansas. Her first exposure to ophthalmology was when she worked for the Arkansas Lions Eye Bank & Laboratory during medical school. For three years she helped procure recently donated eye tissue for transplant and research.

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Young Scientist Makes Strides in Reengineering the Eye

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For research pursuits, Rafael Grytz, Ph.D., has always blazed his own trail. That may explain how a civil engineer from Germany became as an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology.

Grytz applies to the eye principles he first learned as a civil engineer studying shell structures, such as church domes or cooling towers of nuclear power plants. Early in his career Grytz realized he wanted to pursue biomedical research. Having graduated at the top of his class, he earned the chance to choose any area of study for his doctoral research. He made the unobvious choice and selected the eye, specifically diseases that impact the structure of the eye, such as glaucoma myopia and keratoconus.

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Colorful Agam sculpture returns to Callahan Eye Hospital

by Bob Shepard

“Complex Vision” has returned to its place on the side of the Callahan Eye Hospital at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The kinetic sculpture, originally installed in 1976, was taken down for restoration last April. The sculpture was created by famed artist Yaacov Agam, often called the father of kinetic art.

“Alston Callahan, the founder of the hospital and the primary force behind acquiring ‘Complex Vision,’ had a passion for art, and a passion to help people with eye disease,” said Brian Spraberry, CEO of Callahan Eye Hospital. “He wanted to give them an experience that they could appreciate.”

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J. Waid Blackstone, M.D., joins faculty

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J. Waid Blackstone, M.D., joins the UAB Department of Ophthalmology as an assistant professor. Dr. Blackstone, an alumnus of the UAB Ophthalmology residency program, has more than ten years experience as an eye care specialist. Dr. Blackstone is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Medical Association, the Alabama Academy of Ophthalmology and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama.

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Ocular engineering expert joins faculty

Fazio webportraitMassimo Antonio Fazio, Ph.D., joins the UAB Department of Ophthalmology as an assistant professor. Dr. Fazio holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. As a mechanical engineer, Dr. Fazio has dedicated his career to developing customized methods and non-contact optical techniques to measure deformations in loaded materials to gain a deeper understanding of the biomechanical properties of ocular tissues. His work is currently focused on investigating how intraocular pressure (IOP) drives structural changes in the eye in relationship to age, race, and ocular diseases like glaucoma.

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UAB neuroscience junior named finalist for Truman Scholarship

by Meghan Davis

Brian Austin Nykanen, a University of Alabama at Birmingham junior neuroscience major and a Cadet in the Army ROTC at UAB, is a finalist for the Truman Scholarship.

Nykanen, who has a 3.9 grade-point average in the highly challenging neuroscience program, is a member of the UAB Honors College’s Experiential Learning Scholars Program. This past semester, he was the Reserve Officer Training Corps Battalion Command Sergeant Major, which is awarded to the top cadet.

Truman Scholarships support the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership. UAB has produced six Truman Scholars and 11 finalists.

The undergraduate neuroscience program, a collaboration between the UAB College of Arts and Sciences and School of Medicine, attracts top students who are able to work in the labs of world-class neuroscience researchers for three or four years. Nykanen has balanced his research time —first with circadian rhythm researcher Karen Gamble, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and now with MiYoung Kwon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology — with the time demands of ROTC, which usually are 20 to 25 hours a week.

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Girkin to serve as program committee chair at AGS meeting

Christopher Girkin, M.D., EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Chair, UAB Department of Ophthalmology, is serving as chair of the program committee for the 2015 American Glaucoma Society Annual Meeting, held in Coronado, Calif., February 26 – March 1.

The American Glaucoma Society (AGS) strives to promote excellence in the care of patients with glaucoma and preserve or enhance vision by supporting glaucoma specialists and scientists through the advancement of education and research. This year marks the organization’s 25th annual meeting. New in 2015, AGS has partnered with the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS) to hold a joint session on Thursday, February 26.

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Sarah Gordon, O.D., joins faculty

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Sarah C. Gordon, O.D., joins the UAB Department of Ophthalmology faculty as an assistant professor. Dr. Gordon is a Mississippi native and graduate of the UAB School of Optometry. She founded her practice, Inverness Eye Care, in 1986. She is past president of Alabama Optometric Association and served on the Board of Trustees for the Southern Council of Optometry. As a UAB faculty member, Dr. Gordon will participate in initiatives aimed at expanding access to tertiary care for her patients.

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What you need to know about pediatric glaucoma

by Bob Shepard

One evening, five years ago, Brittni Powell did what a lot of young mothers do and gazed into her 2-month-old son’s eyes. What she saw had Brittni and her husband Byron heading immediately to a Montgomery-area hospital emergency department.

“We looked into his eyes and they had this gray, glazy tone to them,” Powell recalled. “We knew that wasn’t right.”

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