1. What is your current position?
I am chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and the John H. Panton MD Professor of Ophthalmology, at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and UI Health. I am also director of the Pediatric Retina of Prematurity Service at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary at the University of Chicago Illinois.
In addition, I hold a number of administrative leadership positions within the hospital system and am involved with entrepreneurship and innovation activities at the university.
Beyond UIC, I am secretary for global alliances for the American Academy of Ophtalmology; secretary, English Language Region, of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology; and sit on a number of boards. I also cofounded a company, Siloam Vision, that is developing technology to better care for children at risk of blindness secondary to prematurity.
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
When I shifted into the role of department head, a lot of things changed for me, and my priorities became more focused on others and helping the faculty and trainees in the department. Depending on the day of the week, my typical day will involve clinical care, research and academic meetings, mentoring trainees, and administrative activities. At night and in the early morning, when I’m not with my family, I’m often in meetings for my board commitments and working with my partners at Siloam Vision. I also work closely with a number of NGOs in developing programs for blindness prevention in low- and middle-income countries. So I do travel quite a bit.
My life is definitely much busier than before I started my current position as chair. It’s a lot of fun being able to help others achieve their goals.
3. How did Weill Cornell Graduate School prepare you for this position?
My time at Weill Cornell Graduate School gave me the foundation for what I’m doing now, with regard to research and innovation. Most of the work I’ve done has focused on developing and implementing technology for preventing children from going blind. When I was at WCGS, I learned to collaborate and perform clinical research that is now having an impact on a global scale.
4. What stands out to you most from your time as a graduate student?
The students that I worked with. It was a terrific community that was incredibly supportive.
5. What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?
Find joy in what you’re doing, collaborate and find great partners in every aspect of your life. I’ve always enjoyed learning from others and their experiences.