Gillingham Fellowship Experience:
Dr. Johanna M. Gonzalez Rodriguez

7 July 2020

As I look back on events that have marked my career and professional development, I can clearly distinguish those that allowed for exponential growth, one of those achievements was being the 2013 “Gillingham Pan-American Fellowship” awardee. This single achievement provided major support and allowed me to aspire to get my sub-specialty degree outside of my home country, Mexico.

The fellowship year was one filled with great learning and growth not only professionally and academically, but also at a personal level. Having the opportunity to live abroad, learn a new culture so ethnically and religiously diverse, travel around a new country, was one of the best experiences in my life.

On the academic and professional aspect, I had the opportunity to enhance all the previous knowledge I had on ophthalmology and particularly glaucoma, and perfect, as well as extend, my surgical expertise. I had the opportunity here to work hand in hand with two of the leading glaucoma specialists in the world, taking away from them not only knowledge and experience on medical and surgical management of patients, but also compassion and empathy for our patients. I was even able to do a 3-month preceptorship at Dr. Ike Ahmed’s clinic, one of the, if not the, leading glaucoma surgeon in the world.

Coming from a research background in basic sciences, I had the opportunity to be responsible for a randomized controlled clinical trial comparing two different surgical techniques in a prospective study as my chief research project, which contributed enormously to my interest in medical research and enriched my previous experience in this field.

The fellowship at Toronto Western Hospital continues to impact my life now. I now hold the position of Associate Director and Therapeutic Area Lead for Ophthalmology at Allergan, a company by Abbvie at National level in Canada, and this was only possible given my background knowledge and expertise with the field, the therapeutic area and the country’s health system, having been part of it during fellowship and understanding the clinical side of it. I am forever grateful to the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology for the support provided through this program. And for those ophthalmology residents considering education abroad, I would say dare to dream, dare to try and dare to act, there is support out there for anyone who works hard to achieve their goals. Like we say in Mexico: “No hay peor lucha, que la que no se hace” or nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Dr. Johanna M. Gonzalez Rodriguez

Figure Legends
Fig. 1. – 2013 Gillingham Pan-American Fellowship recipient, Dr. Johanna M. Gonzalez-Rodriguez

Fig 2. – Dr Gonzalez-Rodriguez with preceptors: Dr. Yvonne Buys and Dr. Graham Trope (center), also in the picture Dr. Catherine Birt (preceptor of the Glaucoma and Anterior Segment Fellowship at Cunnybrook Hospital), Dr. Ya Ping (Research coordinator in 2013-2014 at Toronto Western Hospital) and Dr. Cindy Lam.