2021 Gillingham Pan-American Fellowship Experience:
Mariana Matioli MD
26 July 2021
My name is Mariana Matioli da Palma. I am a vitreoretinal surgeon in Brazil. I did my vitreoretinal surgery fellowship at Instituto Suel Abujamra. In 2019 I started my Ph.D. under a mentorship with Dr. Juliana Maria Ferraz Sallum at Federal University of São Paulo – UNIFESP and under Dr. Ricardo Pedro Casaroli-Marano at Universitat de Barcelona in the field of ocular genetics.
This led me to an international fellowship. The fellowship program at Casey Eye Institute in Oregon Health & Science University – OHSU in Portland, United States, which was one of the best experiences in my academic career.
During my fellowship, I had the chance to learn from a lot of professors. My mentor was Dr. Mark Pennesi, M.D., Ph.D., is a world-prestigious specialist in the field of ocular genetics and is the chief of the Ophthalmic Genetics Division. His research focuses on developing treatments for inherited retinal diseases, and I learned a lot from his expertise. I also had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Paul Yang, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in ophthalmic genetics and ocular immunology. During this experience, I was able to deal with challenging cases, congenital diseases, difficult diagnoses, and immunomodulatory responses in inherited disorders. During the fellowship, I got a deep understanding of electrophysiology, and I was exposed to a wide variety of patient presentations and how to manage inherited eye diseases well.
In addition, I had the chance to follow Dr. Andreas Lauer in the operating room, and to learn from him about the surgical aspects of gene therapies in clinical trials. He has a significant experience in gene therapies, and he is a great vitreoretinal surgeon who gave me special tips and advice. I also followed Dr. Steven Bailey, who performed surgeries to inject subretinal Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), a revolutionary approved treatment for patients with biallelic RPE65 variants. It was unforgettable to follow these patients after treatment.
Another amazing experience was to follow Dr. J. Peter Campbell, a retina specialist in the focus of pediatric diseases. He is involved in research projects in the field of retinopathy of prematurity and imaging in pediatric retinal disease. He is a remarkable pediatric eye surgeon and he is very good with children. Other professors that improved my experience with children’s care were Dr. Alison Skalet, Dr. Lorri Wilson. I appreciated very much time with the peds team.
During grand rounds, genetics case conferences, I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Richard Weleber, and Dr. Robert Watzke. These doctors have contributed so much knowledge with their work over the years, and they are still participating in the conferences at OHSU. This was so inspiring for me!
The experience with patients was rewarding. At the end of my fellowship, I was sad to say goodbye to some of them. I heard great stories and learned about different cultures from mine, such as living in Alaska, which is really different from living in Brazil.
Everything was wonderful. I was lucky to be able to participate in research projects with Dr. Cristy Ku, M.D, Ph.D., Austin Igelman, research coordinators, and genetic counselors. We have prepared manuscripts that have been approved. I also had the opportunity to interact with the other fellows, who were extremely hard-working including Dr. Brittni Scruggs, Dr. Rebekah Gensure, and Dr. Kellyn Bellsmith. During Dr. James Rosenbaum clinic days, I also met other international fellows: Dr. Jerry Huang from Taiwan and Dr. Hadi Khazaei from India. This experience gave me an idea about ophthalmology training around the world. The staff was amazing and made me feel at home, especially Alicia, Azia, and Joie. Northwest people are known as nice people, and I can say they are! Dr. John Ng has a great responsibility for that as well. I also had the chance to meet Dr. Karine Bojikian, a Brazilian glaucoma specialist, and we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Thank you all for that.
We can’t stop learning. We need to continually pursue better education. And thank you to the Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation and the Retina Research Foundation for this award.
I am receiving my certificate from Dr. Mark Pennesi, an inspiring professor.
Dr. Paul Yang and me during a challenging and great clinic day.
From back to front: Joie, Dr. Cristy Ku, Azia, Amanda, Alicia, and me.
Dr. Andreas Lauer, Dr. Brittni Scruggs, and me before a gene therapy surgery at Casey Eye Institute.
My husband and I in the Willamette River in Portland – OR
Dr. Cristy Ku, Austin Igelman, and I enjoying lunchtime (poke food) at Elks Children’s Eye Clinic.