Dr. Ann Musika Completes ECF Fellowship

From Uganda to Israel, and Back Home Again

Hailing from Kampala, Uganda, Dr. Ann Musika has completed her 6-month ophthalmic oncology fellowship training sponsored by the Eye Cancer Foundation.

From Left: Dr. Ann Musika, Dr. Alezam, Dr. Didi Fabian, and Dr. Vicktoria Vishnevska-Dai

For the past six months, Dr. Musika has trained at Sheba Medical Centre at the Goldschleger Eye Institute under supervision of the director of the ocular oncology unit, Dr. Vicktoria Dai. Her training included all aspects of eye cancer care––from diagnosis, to treatment, to intravitreal injections for radiation retinopathy. Additionally, she took part in various research studies at Goldschleger’s ophthalmology department.

The Eye Cancer Foundation places an emphasis world-class training as well as practical and applicable training. So while Dr. Musika learned all aspects of eye cancer treatment practiced at Goldschleger’s, she specifically focused on treatments and techniques that would be just as readily available to her in Kampala.

Dr. Ann Musika (second from the left) alongside Senior ocular oncologists (Presenters) with after the ocular oncology training at the University of Sienna Italy on December 6th-7th, 2018

“It is with great pleasure that I express my sincere gratitude

to you for the great support that you offered me…all this wouldn’t have been possible without your generous support. The knowledge and skills acquired from this training I hope to apply to improve the quality of care for our ocular oncology patients in my nation. I am forever grateful.”

Prior to Dr. Musika, there were no fellowship-trained eye cancer specialists in Uganda. Consequently, patients with eye cancer suffered not only from their disease, but also from a lack of specialized care. However, now upon the completion of her training, Dr. Musika intends to return to Uganda and provide her nation with much-needed specialty care.

 

To Learn More about the Eye Cancer Foundation, its mission, and fellowship opportunities, visit the website at www.eyecancercure.com.


Day 4: Live From the ISOO 2019!

Day 4 at the ISOO: Retinoblastoma

Every two years, eye cancer specialists worldwide convene at the International Society of Ocular Oncology Conference in order to review latest research and encourage international collaboration within the field of ophthalmic oncology.

For details on the ISOO Biennial Conference, read more here.


Preventing Retinoblastoma

Dr. Helen Dimaras opened with her talk on clinically preventable retinoblastoma, having analyzed the frequency of unfavorable outcomes such as death, metastasis, enucleation, EBRT, and how we can avoid such outcomes. Looking at data retrospectively allows physicians to “review how patients do and improve practice by looking at the past, reducing errors, and improving documentation and precision of care.”

In high-income nations, frequency of poor outcomes is low, and we need to work on expanding such rates abroad. Not only this, but a comment from the audience emphasized the significance of this study’s call to action: even just one child who succumbs to retinoblastoma is a child lost, and such outcomes need to be taken very seriously. We need to avoid misdiagnosis and under-treatment as much we humanly can to ensure that unfavorable outcomes do not happen in the future.


“Chemoplaques”

Dr. Brenda Gallie presented an interesting study regarding a device named “chemoplaques” in Chemoplaque (sustained-release topotecan episcleral device) for retinoblastoma: Opportunity for rapid clinical evaluation of toxicity and efficacy to support safe eye salvage. The devise works through continuous exposure via diffusion, and has thus far produced promising results. By day 28, most of the studied tumors had gone away, and many were gone even earlier, by day 18.


International Fellowship Training Guidelines

Forming Plans for Future Fellowships

In an auxiliary lecture hall, many of us gathered to discuss training fellows all over the world in order to create and develop international treatment centers that will allow greater access to eye cancer care in underdeveloped countries and underserved areas. Sound familiar? As this is one of the primary missions of The Eye Cancer Foundation, Chairman of the ECF, Dr. Finger gave a lecture and lead the discussion.

Dr. Finger with fellows trained by Dr. Honavar in Hyderabad, India. From left: Dr. Sumeet Lahane, Dr. Paul Finger, Dr. Puneet Jain, Dr. Mrithika Sen, Dr. Ankit Tomar, and Dr.

So what is the plan of action? Flexible fellowships with candidates sent from the ophthalmic society of the unserved or underserved region. Being underserved locations, we must be open to 3-month long fellowships, since the physician is needed in their country to give care. 12-month fellowships oftentimes are unfeasible. We must also make a collaborative effort to increase funding for such programs. Dr. Finger says “It has been my experience that funding can come from unexpected places. All you need to do is discuss this wonderful work we are doing and relate how we need help. It is a blessing to allow others to share in the accomplishment of saving children’s sight and life.”

Full video of Dr. Finger’s Lecture Here!

International Fellowship Training Guidelines Meeting Attendees

 


The ECF Establishes the First Eye Pathologist in Jordan

Prior to involvement of The Eye Cancer Foundation (ECF), Jordan had no practicing eye cancer specialists. We trained Dr. Yacoub Yousef and he established the first eye cancer referral center at The King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman. After years of building this center, Dr. Yousef has trained many eye cancer specialists for the surrounding countries and has offered life and vision-sparing treatments for patients throughout the Middle East. Finally, with a place to go, patients requiring eye treatment inundated these hospitals. With more and more patients needing eye cancer services, Jordan and the Middle East needed a specialist in eye pathology.

In response to this need, The ECF supported Dr. Jakub Khzouz’s fellowship in ophthalmic pathology and oncology with Dr. Sarah Coupland at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in Liverpool, England. Dr. Khzouz has so far spent one year learning modern methods of ophthalmic pathology (adult and pediatric), as well as the diagnosis and treatment of eye cancers.  

Dr. Khzouz reports that his exposure to Eye and general Pathology with Dr. Coupland at  Liverpool Hospital’s pathology laboratory was significantly different from his prior experience in Jordan. He learned that eye cancer specimens should be handled by trained eye pathology specialists. “Proper sample grossing and detailed reporting are important for staging and aid management,”says Dr. Khzouz. He intends to reassess prior pathology reports, stating that “once back in Jordan, my first project will be to review all the retinoblastoma cases archived in our pathology laboratory, independently report and stage them according to the latest 8th edition AJCC-TNM system, and then compare that with the original reports.” Such will be important for research purposes, as well as defining the impact and importance of fellowship-training with respect to complicated pathologies.

Our fellows have even greater plans for the future of eye cancer treatment in Jordan. Dr. Khzouz intends topartner with the first eye cancer specialist in Jordan, ECF Fellow Dr. Yacoub Yousef. “I have discussed with my colleague Yacoub, and by working together we will improve the quality of the King Hussein Ocular Tumor Service and reach out to other laboratories and countries to perform molecular and genetic testing for eye cancer patients.”

Through our fellowship programs, The Eye Cancer Foundation has sought to provide unserved and underserved countries with the best quality fellowship education and training from some of the most experienced specialists in the world. We motivate our fellows to bring new techniques and advancements to their home countries so that access to optimal eye cancer treatment becomes universal. We will continue to support our fellows, Dr. Yousef and Dr. Khzouz and now offer Jordan two fellowship-trained eye cancer specialists who are dedicated to saving sight, saving life and “paying it forward” by teaching fellows from other middle eastern countries.

However, our goal is not yet complete. Many more countries are in great need, and we hope to place at least one eye cancer specialist in each country. Click here to donate to our cause.

 


New ECF Graduates Bring Their Skills to Egypt and India

Saving the Underserved in Egypt and India…

We at The Eye Cancer Foundation are pleased to celebrate the graduation of our two most recent recent fellows: Dr. Puneet Jain from India and Dr. Moanes Morkos from Egypt. In traditional ECF manner, both fellows return to their country with goals to care for eye cancer patients, advocate for patients, improve treatment and training. They will present their ECF sponsored research work at eye meetings in their countries and around the world.

Having successfully completed their training, Dr. Jain and Dr. Morkos now join the ranks of over forty fellows trained and sponsored by the ECF. Not only have we reached the goal of our 2020 Campaign––to train 20 eye cancer specialists in 20 unserved and underserved countries by the year 2020––we have doubled it.

With the support of our donors, we have taken on and answered many previously unsolved questions about eye tumor diagnosis and treatment  this year. We hope that this momentum does not decline, but rather accelerate, and bring us to a future where ocular melanoma, retinoblastoma and eye cancer deaths do not exist.

To become a patron, simply give a gift to The Eye Cancer Foundation. You can sponsor fellows like Dr. Jain and Dr. Morkos, buy prosthetic eyes for retinoblastoma children, or aid in any of our numerous goals for a clearer, brighter future.

Next stop: the rest of the world!

Donate Now!


From India to the Big Apple

At the close of 2017, The Eye Cancer Foundation promised its supporters to continue the momentum of the tremendous strides made throughout the year, and indeed it has with yet another Eye Cancer Foundation Ophthalmic Oncology Fellowship thus completed. Meet the ECF’s latest Fellowship alumnus: Abhilasha.

Abhilasha Maheshwari, MBBS, hails from the bustling northern city of Chandigarh, India, and took a special interest in the treatment of eye cancers early on in her career as a medical student. It was from there that she further ventured into the speciality by training under the world-renowned eye cancer specialist and member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Eye Cancer Foundation, Dr. Santosh Hanovar at Centre For Sight in Hyderabad, India. For many South Asians, Centre For Sight is vital, due to the unfortunately low amount of treatment centers readily accessible to eye cancer patients within the geographic area. Dr. Hanovar, always eager to progress the eye cancer speciality, had put forth Dr. Maheshwari as a candidate to be further trained in ophthalmic oncology by Dr. Paul T. Finger at the New York Eye Cancer Center and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. She was accepted for the program, and arrived for her six month fellowship in August 2017.

Apart from embracing the colorful experience of living in an entirely new city, Dr. Maheshwari has aided in a number of Dr. Finger’s groundbreaking projects during her time as an Eye Cancer Foundation Fellow. January 20, 2018 saw the publication of a paper worked on by Dr. Finger and Dr. Maheshwari, which presents a 12-year study of 52 patients with uvueal melanoma treated with low energy photon, slotted eye plaque Palladium-103 radiation therapy. The paper was successfully published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology and presented orally at the November 2017 American Association of Ophthalmic Oncologists and Pathologists (AAOOP) Annual Meeting held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Additionally, Dr. Maheshwari became the first ECF-ICO Fellow to participate in the DRO Initiative, a program used by the NYECC to report patient outcomes on the web in a patient-accessible format. Her work included anonymously recording these patients into the program for their disease, treatment, visual acuity, tumor stage and height, and more. She has since handed her instructional work to the next NYECC Fellow, and the DRO Initiative continues with outstanding success. To learn more about DRO, click here.

Where is she now? At the end of her fellowship, Dr. Maheshwari returned to India, where she has recently taken up a hospital job and aims to improve patient life, hoping to one day have all of South Asia (which includes Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) no longer be an underserved area in the treatment of eye cancer. The ECF plans to keep its supporters updated on all progress made by our alumni, so stay tuned!

To learn more about ECF-ICO Fellowships, including how to apply for one, click here.


The Global Effort

 

The 2020 Campaign continues to make tremendous strides in the advancement of eye cancer care through the exciting completion of Dr. Milly Shakoor’s 6-month fellowship in retinoblastoma training. This news arrives unitedly with the announcement of another ECF Fellow’s completed training, Dr. Veronica Molleda, from Bolivia. With every fellowship thus offered and completed, The Eye Cancer Foundation and its supporters come closer to fully realizing the goal of training 20 specialists in 20 countries to treat childhood eye cancer.

Eye Cancer Foundation fellowships offer doctors to be trained in the specialized treatment of retinoblastoma, training that they cannot otherwise receive in their home country. These ECF fellowships, partnered with the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), are available to candidates from unserved or underserved countries. After doctors complete their six months of training, they agree to return to their home country to start or participate in eye cancer treatment for the unserved.

But what is retinoblastoma? Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer in children and affects approximately 8,200 children each year. In developed countries like the United Sates,  the survival rate reaches beyond an astounding 96%, with early diagnosis and treatment being key to saving patients’ lives and sight. However, the incidence rate is higher in developing countries, where most of the children succumb to metastatic retinoblastoma. In areas where children and families have no means of traveling to treatment centers far away from them, these afflicted children often endure their untreated disease untreated, which eventually leads to death. Because no child or family should have to suffer these losses, especially due to inability to simply reach a treatment center, the ECF has launched the 2020 Campaign.

Dr. Milly Shakoor comes from Dhaka, the capital of the highly densely-populated country of Bangladesh, where availability of retinoblastoma care is certainly low. She trained at The Centre for Sight in Hyderabad, India with the renown Director of Medical Services, Dr. Santosh G. Honavar (pictured above), who specializes both in oculoplasty and ocular oncology. Since her return to Dhaka, she has been met with several retinoblastoma cases and continues her treatment of them.

As always, The Eye Cancer Foundation these fellowships could not have been completed without the support of readers and donors — and so, the ECF thanks you for helping to provide hope for eye cancer patients around the world. To our audiences, we hope that you will continue to support these projects through your continued readership, word of mouth, and well wishes!


ECF Fellow Brings Hope to Bolivia

 

It is with the deepest pride that The Eye Cancer Foundation announces the successful completion of Dr. Veronica Molleda’s first 3-month fellowship in retinoblastoma care at the Hospital Infantil de Mexico. Under the tutelage of Dr. Marco Ramirez (pictured right), Head of Ophthalmological Services at the Hospital Infantil and the support of the ECF, Dr. Molleda is now well-equipped with valuable training that will aid eye cancer patients in her native home of Bolivia.

In 2016, The ECF launched the 2020 Campaign with the goal of training 20 Specialists in 20 countries to treat childhood eye cancer. In partnership with the International Council of Ophthalmology, ECF fellowships are available to candidates from unserved or underserved countries. Once the doctors complete their six months of training, they agree to return to their home country to start or participate in eye cancer treatment for the unserved. Dr. Molleda was offered this fellowship by the ECF, which supported her research and stay in Mexico before her return to Bolivia.

Eye Cancer Foundation fellowships offer doctors specialized training in the treatment of retinoblastoma they cannot otherwise receive in their home country. Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer in children and affects approximately 8,200 children each year. The incidence rate is somewhat higher in developing countries, where most of the children eventually succumb to metastatic retinoblastoma. In contrast, there exists a better than 96% survival rate in developed countries like the USA. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to saving retinoblastoma patients’ lives and their sight.

During her rotation in Mexico, Dr. Molleda accomplished a great deal of activities. She engaged in bi-weekly meetings with fellow residents to discuss the most recent and relevant issues on retinoblastoma treatment and how to tackle them, as well as presenting difficult cases in retinoblastoma with several oncologists and radiotherapy specialists. She has learned critical information on retinoblastoma, from clinical and differential diagnosis, to Rb genetics. She has developed skills in RetCam operation for outpatient clinics as well as B-scan eye ultrasound for patients with suspicious intraocular tumors. In addition to this, she’s learned critical surgical skills with indirect ophthalmoscope lasers and enucleation with orbital implants. 

“Dr. Molleda will give a superb ophthalmological service to Bolivian patients with retinoblastoma,” says her mentor, Dr. Marco Ramirez, who looks forward to receiving her for another three-months rotation later this year.

The Eye Cancer Foundation humbly thanks its supporters and donors, without whom these fellowships could not have been completed. Every new fellowship awarded and completed provides hope for children whose lives and visions are at risk simply due to their inability to access proper medical care. Your support has always and will continue to make tremendous strides in the field of eye cancer.

 

For more information on The Eye Cancer Foundation Fellowships, including how to apply, click HERE.

 


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