New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
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NYEE Awarded Prestigious International Fellowships 

New York, NY (June 2004) -- For the second consecutive year, with the assistance and support of Robert Ritch, MD, surgeon director and chief of glaucoma services, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary has been awarded prestigious fellowships by the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), executive body of the International Federation of Ophthalmological Societies (IFOS). 

Less than two dozen ICO/IFOS fellowships are given in the entire USA each year, and in the past two years NYEE has had five of what are considered the most prestigious international training awards in ophthalmology.

The goal of the IFOS/ICO fellowship program is for the recipients to acquire advanced skills that they may put into practice in their home countries. In 2004, international fellows at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary are Marzahn Ataculova, MD, of Kazakhstan, who will study diabetic retinopathy and laser treatment with Thomas Muldoon, MD, and Passorn Preechawai, MD, of Thailand, who will study ophthalmic plastic, reconstructive and orbital surgery with Robert C. Della Rocca, MD, chief of that service at NYEE and chair of ophthalmology at St. Luke's & Roosevelt Hospitals.

The following was contributed by Vincent Hugo, M.D., Clinical Research Coordinator at the New York Glaucoma Research Institute:


The International Federation of Ophthalmological Societies (IFOS) represents and serves professional associations of ophthalmologists throughout the world, and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) is the executive body and operational arm of IFOS, and was founded in 1927 in Scheveningen, Holland and the IFOS in 1933 in Madrid, Spain.

We are faced with the sad reality that “every 5 seconds 1 person goes blind, and a child every minute. There are 45 million blind today and 135 million with significant vision loss. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of blind and visually impaired will double from 180 to 360 million by year 2020 unless concerted action is taken. Eighty percent of blindness is avoidable, 20% is preventable, and 60% is treatable.” With this in mind, the IFOS/ICO aims to preserve and protect vision by enhancing ophthalmic education to all eye personnel around the globe leading to a decrease in visual problems.


IFOS/ICO International Fellowship

There are now a total of 50 institutions in 23 countries that are actively participating in the fellows training program. Out of all the applicants for the IFOS/ICO fellowship program between March 2001 and March 2003, 88 have been granted a training position – 6 of whom were granted a fellowship training program at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

To qualify for the IFOS/ICO Fellowship training program is no walk in the park. Stiff competition and strict qualifications do apply. For one to apply to an IFOS/ICO training program, one should have completed their basic residency training in ophthalmology, had experience in dealing with the eye problems of their hometown, preferably less than 40 years old, able to commit to their current institution that they will return to the institution upon completion of training, and have passed the IFOS/ICO International basic and clinical assessments. There are very few slots for this prestigious training program, hence, only the competent doctors around the world, who exude excellence, are granted the privilege.


The Fellows

Six fellows have been granted the IFOS/ICO Fellowship training program here at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, namely:

Chun Zhang, M.D.

Chun Zhang, M.D. (August 25 – November 30, 2003/ Dr. Ritch)

Associate Professor
Peking Eye University, Third Hospital
Peking University, Beijing CHINA

Dr. Zhang completed his “Master of Medicine” degree in 1994 in Beijing Medical University while doing his residency training in ophthalmology at the “Third Hospital of Peking University.” He completed a fellowship in the Department of Pathology at the Yale School of Medicine in 1999-2000. His area of research is mainly on glaucoma, retinal degeneration, retinal stem cells and neuroprotection.

“The updated strategy of glaucoma management and Laser treatment are 2 very important topics that I was exposed to during my training at NYEE that has helped me a lot in my current practice.”


Wisam Shihadeh, M.D.

Wisam Shihadeh, M.D. (June 2003-June 2004/Dr. Ritch)

Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology
King Abdullah University Hospital
Jordan University of Science & Technology

Dr. Shihadeh attained his medical degree from the “Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) in 1998, and continued on as an ophthalmology resident at the same institution and at the King Abdullah University (KAUH). He completed his medical degree among the top of his class and upon reaching his senior year as an ophthalmology resident was given the great responsibility of being the “chief resident.” Currently, Dr. Shihadeh is a clinical fellow specializing in glaucoma, under the training of Drs. Ritch, Liebmann and Tello.

“This fellowship helped me have a thorough foundation in the field of glaucoma to be able to establish a glaucoma service in my home country – Jordan, begin my own sub-specialty training program and participate in clinical research programs.”


Ainura Asanova, M.D.

Ainura Asanova, M.D.  (September 2 – November 30, 2003 - Dr. Lisabeth Hall and Dr. Alan Weseley)

National Hospital of the Kyrgyz Republic. Eye Micro Surgery Department
Kyrgyz Republic, Russia

Born and raised in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, Dr. Asanova got her diploma as a “nurse of general profile,” at the Bishkek Medical School as her undergraduate degree in 1991, then continued to pursue a career in medicine in the same school and got her medical degree in 1997. She then pursued a career in ophthalmology and attained her certificate as an ophthalmologist from the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy in 1999. She is currently affiliated with the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, under the Department of Eye Diseases, Faculty of Medicine.

“As a result of my fellowship, I am preparing teaching aids for medical students and professional physicians, based on the materials and experience I have gained during my training at the NYEE.”


Passorn Preechawai, M.D.

Passorn Preechawai, M.D. (August-October 2004 – Dr. Della Rocca)

Department of Ophthalmology
Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University
Had Yai, Songkhla, THAILAND

Dr. Preechawai, graduated from the “Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University,” and continued into ophthalmology training in the same institution and then finished her training at the Chiang Mai University, Thailand. A pro-active physician, who has done a lot of volunteer work in her home town ever since she completed her residency training. She has co-authored several research papers, and is currently working on the “Treatment of Cytomegalovirus Retinitis in Aids with Intravitreal foscanet and ganciclovir.” 

She is currently here at the New York Eye and Ear infirmary as an observer, in the oculoplastic service, under the supervision of Dr. Della Rocca. 

"I expect that this program will improve my knowledge and decision making, on how to better manage my patients. I hope that my experience will help me organize both the academic and service fields in my department.”


Marzahz Ataculova, M.D.

Marzahz Ataculova, M.D. (September 1-November 30, 2004)

Research Fellow
Kazakh State Institute of Eye Diseases
Karzakhstan, Almaty

Dr. Ataculova graduated “magna cum laude” (Biology Major) from Saint Michael’s College, Vermont, USA. She then pursued her medical studies at the Kazakh State Medical University, and went further by specializing in the field of ophthalmology at the Kazakh School of Post-Graduate Studies. Current research project is on the problem of pathogenesis-oriented treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

“My aspirations are to enhance my professional skills and to apply gained knowledge in accordance with the needs of my home institute.” 


Tatyana Egorova, M.D.

Tatyana Egorova, M.D. (July – September 2005)

Post-graduate Student – Eye Diseases
Department of Eye Diseases 
Russian State Medical University

Dr. Egorova is currently undergoing her post-graduate course in ophthalmology – eye diseases - at the Russian State Medical University. Her research projects focus on the clinico-pharmacological aspects of glaucoma treatment. To date, she has had 3 articles on the safety and efficiency of new prostaglandin analogues in the treatment of primary open-angle glaucoma. She was awarded the IFOS/ICO fellowship to be done at NYEE, and will be focusing primarily on glaucoma and research on prostaglandin analogues. 

“I’m most interested in learning more about the new methods in diagnostics and treatment of glaucoma - laser/surgical and pharmacotherapy.”


Media Information

If you are a reporter seeking to interview this or any other doctor at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, please contact Jean Thomas, at (212) 979-4274, or Axel F. Bang, at (914) 234-5433.




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