Fellowship Overview

The Retina Clinical and Molecular Research Fellowship is a 12-month-long, full-time fellowship designed for vitreoretinal fellowship-trained physicians to gain specialized expertise in 1) clinical diagnosis and treatment of inherited retinal diseases, 2) laboratory based skills related to the molecular genetic diagnosis and pathophysiology of inherited retinal diseases, and 3) research skills necessary for advancing to an academic career.

This fellowship is under the direction of Elliott H. Sohn, MD and is designed as an option additional year to the Medical Retina or the Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery Fellowship.


  • Clinical care of patients with inherited retinal disorders
    • Become proficient in the work-up and diagnosis of patients with these diseases
    • Understand how psychophysical and electrodiagnostic tests aid in assessment and progression
    • Increase ability to discuss genetic testing results and prognosis with patients and the implications for families
  • Medical knowledge
    • Attend didactic sessions on genetic eye disorders (e.g. Stone Rounds)
    • Be facile with core knowledge on inherited retinal disorders in Ryan Retina textbook as well as current literature
    • Develop a more precise understanding of genotype-phenotype correlations for inherited retinal diseases
  • Laboratory expertise
    • Learn how clinical diagnostic tests are performed and interpreted at the Carver Nonprofit Genetic Testing Laboratory
  • Research skills and writing
    • Become immersed in research related to inherited retinal diseases taking place at the UI Institute for Vision Research (topics include imaging, tumor genetics, psychophysical testing, animal surgery, genotype-phenotype correlations, clinical trials)
    • Write at least 1 peer-reviewed manuscript
    • Submit application for at least 1 research award/grant (if full external funding not already procured before starting fellowship)

Curriculum and rotations

The two primary components of this fellowship are based in the clinic seeing adult patients with inherited retinal diseases and laboratory performing research. The curriculum, rotation and rotation sites will consist of

  • 4 half-days a week (40%) in the inherited retinal disease clinics (UI Hospitals & Clinics) of Ian Han, MD, Elliott Sohn, MD, and Edwin Stone, MD, PhD
  • 4 half-days a week (40%) in the laboratory at the UI Institute for Vision Research (UIIVR at MERF) doing molecular genetics experimental research, writing papers and grants
  • 2 half-days a week (20%) spent in one of the following areas (that will be mutually agreed upon by the fellow and fellowship director)
    • Echography (Ophthalmology/UI Hospitals & Clinics)
    • Electrophysiology (Ophthalmology/UI Hospitals & Clinics)
    • Retinal imaging (UI Hospitals & Clinics/UIIVR)
    • Retinal tumor genetics (UI Hospitals & Clinics/UIIVR)
    • Rodent experiments of inherited retinal conditions (UIIVR)
    • Phase I-III clinical trials in retinal gene therapy
    • Preclinical (pig) surgery for retinal gene therapy and stem cell transplantation (UIIVR)
  • Further clinical opportunities that may be available (with discretion of the fellowship director) include:
    • Maximum of 12 days for independent clinics that will be in place of fellow or faculty retina physicians.
    • Maximum of 12 days of retinal surgery that will be supervised by a faculty physician. If this option is exercised, we will mitigate impact on the 2 year vitreoretinal surgery fellowship by having the research fellow take an proportional number of days of vitreoretinal surgery fellow call

Formal evaluation

Due to the nature of research, there will be frequent one-on-one contact between faculty and fellow thus evaluations will on-going. Formal evaluation will carried out semi-annually.


Stipend, fringe, and benefits will be commensurate with level of training, for example, a fellow having completed a fellowship at the PGY-6 rate would be eligible for PGY-7 compensation.

Unlike the Vitreoretinal Surgery fellowship, the Retina clinical and molecular research fellowship is non-accredited.