The Department of Ophthalmology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA strives for excellence in the areas of patient care, education, research, and community engagement. The core values of equity, diversity and inclusion are integral to these goals; we will treat all individuals with dignity, humility and respect. We strive to create a culture that supports a diverse and inclusive department, which ensures every member of our department an equitable opportunity for success and ensures all patients equitable access to high quality health care.
Gavin Bahadur, MD
Laura Bonelli, MD
Deborah Ferrington, PhD
Gad Heilwell, MD
Monica Khitri, MD
Ken Kitayama, MD
Maltish Lorenzo, MD
Mitra Nejad, MD
Kouros Nouri-Mahdavi, MD
Stacy Pineles, MD
Peter Quiros, MD
Roxana Radu, MD
Steven Schwartz, MD
Edmund Tsui, MD
Victoria Tseng, MD, PhD
Irena Tsui, MD
The EyeJEDI endeavors will focus on 6 elements in the next 5 years: people, climate, structural element, professional development, community engagement and patient care. All 6 elements interwind with each other.
A few focuses of our JEDI endeavor include the following:
1. Build a URiM pipeline program to increase recruitment of female and underrepresented minorities to ophthalmology Our current efforts include enhancing residency recruitment effort to attract the most talented underrepresented medical students to our residency program, fostering and preparing medical students via sponsorship and mentorship, and establishing a summer undergraduate scholarship.
2. Establish a structured mentoring program for underrepresented trainees and junior faculty.
3. Establish a structured professional development program for underrepresented residents and junior faculty.
4. Create more inclusive and respectful climate.
5. Faculty recruitment and retention to build a diverse faculty body and leadership.
6. Continue our community engagement efforts.
7. Promote equitable eye care.
8. Continue and expand our current research on social determinant of vision health.
When Emmanuel Williams, a student at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, came to UCLA in the summer of 2021 to conduct research on the relationship between glaucoma and exposure to steroids, the experience was the beginning of a new direction in education for the undergraduate.
“This was my first hands-on opportunity for research—it was challenging, but it opened my eyes to issues in science I hadn’t been aware of,” says Mr. Williams, a biology major.
Mr. Williams’s studies at UCLA were made possible by funding from a program coordinated by a partnership between the University of California and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to increase the number of African Americans in research. The grant was secured by Jie J. Zheng, PhD, professor of ophthalmology, Sophie X. Deng, MD, PhD, Joan and Jerome Snyder Chair in Cornea Diseases, and JoAnn S. Roberts, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow. In summer 2021, undergraduate students Matthew Dye and Chelsea Thomas, in addition to Emmanuel Williams, came to the Stein Eye Institute to work on original research in the laboratories of Drs. Zheng and Deng.
The UC-HBCU program is one of a broad range of initiatives that are integral to the university’s expanding programs of “EDI” (equity, diversity, and inclusion)—an initiative that is expanding Stein Eye’s already-extensive involvement in the issues of access in America.
“The UCLA Stein Eye Institute’s reputation as a premier research and teaching institute is built on recruiting, retaining, and supporting outstanding faculty, residents, and staff from diverse backgrounds,” says Bartly J. Mondino, MD, director of the Stein Eye Institute and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. “Our goal is to build even stronger commitments to those ideals.”
A heritage of inclusion
The current drive for new EDI initiatives has evolved after more than a half-century of involvement in diversity as a foundation of health care as a human right. Building on that philosophy is a thriving university-wide program to strengthen the core values of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as inseparable goals in health care, research, education, recruitment, and community engagement.
Although UCLA has been readdressing these issues of diversity for several years, the need to expand EDI at every level of the university was underscored more recently by the dual crises of the COVID- 19 pandemic and social protests across the nation after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in the spring of 2020.
“UCLA has always been a leader in creating a climate of diversity,” says Lynn K. Gordon, MD, PhD, professor of ophthalmology emeritus and the first senior associate dean of equity and diversity inclusion in UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. “Before the pandemic and before Mr. Floyd’s death, we had already been working with campus organizations about the need for developing more targeted efforts in EDI. The spread of the pandemic and the civic unrest were pivotal milestones that amplified the need for enriching those plans.”
“Diversity and inclusion are linked directly to our institutional goals of excellence for health care, research, education, and community engagement,” Dr. Gordon says. “Our goal is leadership in eliminating health care disparities while delivering high-quality patient care, and building an inclusive environment for our faculty, staff, and residents, as we serve the diverse communities around us.”
EyeEDI: new programs to build on previous commitments
To accomplish those objectives, units across UCLA have been creating a host of new EDI initiatives.
At the Stein Eye Institute, these projects are developed by EyeEDI, a committee of faculty, residents, and staff, directed by Dr. Deng.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are foundational principles that are central to the fulfillment of the Institute’s mission,” says Dr. Deng. “The EyeEDI Committee is developing strategies that complement the existing diversity initiatives within the School of Medicine to build a community in the Institute that is equally diverse and inclusive.”
Five years of new milestones
The early results of the committee’s work have produced a five-year plan of programs that will increase the Institute’s engagement in its EDI commitment. Three priorities are:
Creating a more inclusive climate and an increasingly diverse corps of residents and faculty;
Modifying existing mentorship programs to better tailor the needs of trainees, junior faculty, and underrepresented minorities; and Improving the existing process to provide everyone in the Institute with equitable opportunity for growth.
“The idea is to make inclusion and equity integral to everything we do,” says Dr. Deng. “Our plans are aggressive, and we are looking at the broadest questions of how EDI can be more integral to every level of the Institute’s work.”
An emphasis on access to care
The Institute’s efforts for EDI also extend into the role of Stein Eye services in the community.
“Our EDI agenda is expanding on issues that UCLA health care had taken on for years: working to improve medical care for the segments of the population that are underserved, less healthy, and have much higher percentages of chronic illness and conditions that are purely a function of lack of access,” says Dr. Deng.
Such plans for EDI are crucial to increasing the number of doctors who originally came from underserved communities, and who often return for their medical practices.
“The data show that doctors tend to return to and treat patients in the communities where they came from,” says Dr. Deng. “So it is vital to build even more aggressive programs to train ophthalmologists from underserved communities, which will have a significant impact on increasing access to eye care.”
A stronger sense of community
With many EDI programs unfolding and short-term projects already in place, the Institute’s goals for EDI are evolving quickly. But the process is—and will always be—an ongoing challenge.
“We are constantly reevaluating, reflecting, and reimagining how we can build a stronger sense of community based on EDI principles,” says Dr. Gordon. “We can’t just rest on our past success— we need to keep looking forward and say: what can we do now to be even better?”
Emmanuel Williams investigates steroid-induced glaucoma at Stein Eye. His research poster on this topic won first place in the UCLA UC-HBCU Neuroscience Track 2021 Summer Program.
“We are constantly reevaluating, reflecting, and reimagining how we
can build a stronger sense of community based on EDI principles.
We can’t just rest on our past success—we need to keep looking forward and say: what can we do now to be even better?”
LYNN K. GORDON, MD, PHD
Through the UC-HBCU partnership, undergraduate students
Emmanuel Williams, Chelsea Thomas, and Matthew Dye came to
UCLA and contributed to original research in the laboratories of
Drs. Sophie Deng and Jie Zheng.
“With the support of the Academy, our goal is to encourage discourse, build community, and create a space to connect around mentorship, research, and advocacy,”
PETER A. QUIROS, MD
Peter A. Quiros, MD, is a founding member and leading voice of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) LGBTQ+ community. The group supports LGBTQ+ members in ophthalmology and is committed to advancing health equity and equality for patients and health care professionals.
“With the support of the Academy, our goal is to encourage discourse, build community, and create a space to connect around mentorship, research, and advocacy,” says Dr. Quiros, UCLA health sciences clinical professor of ophthalmology. The community’s multi-pronged approach includes working in areas consisting of:
MENTORSHIP: Connecting young ophthalmic trainees with more-senior LGBTQ+ mentors to help navigate challenges that might be encountered in an ophthalmic career.
EDUCATION: Improving health care by educating colleagues about the LGBTQ+ community—chipping away at the health disparities and stigmas the population faces.
PARTNERSHIP: The Minority Ophthalmology Mentoring program is a partnership between the AAO and Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. The Program increases diversity, equity, and inclusion by connecting underrepresented students with mentorship, career planning, networking opportunities, and educational resources.
ADVOCACY: The AAO current task forces addressing discrepancies include the Task Force on Disparities in Eye Care and the Task Force on Organizational Diversity and Inclusion.
The seed for this effort was planted by Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD, The Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Chair in Ophthalmology, who served as 2020 president of the AAO. “I understand the importance of having every ophthalmologist, resident, and medical student feel welcome and supported by the AAO,” says Dr. Coleman. “It must be our goal to ensure we recognize and support their contributions to the field of ophthalmology and they are provided a safe forum to voice and advocate for issues specific to them. Under the leadership of Dr. Quiros, I expect this group to be a huge success.”
Issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion are central to the fulfillment of the Stein Eye Institute’s mission, and the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EyeJEDI) of the UCLA Department of Ophthalmology was announced earlier this year to further support a diverse and inclusive Department, as well as to provide every member of the Department with an equitable opportunity for success and ensure all patients have access to high quality health care.
The first task of the committee was to identify areas that would benefit from improvement. Based on the input from trainees, staff members, and faculty, EyeJEDI plans to focus on six elements to achieve our JEDI mission in the next five years: People, Climate, Structural Elements, Professional Development, Community Engagement, and Clinical Care.
Because well-represented and gender balanced leadership has far-reaching benefits, there has been a surge of interest in this topic, especially for females and underrepresented minorities. Acquiring effective leadership skills is an integral part of professional development for our trainees and faculty, and it is also an area identified for improvement in the Department. The EyeJEDI Committee proposed supporting and providing leadership training to females and underrepresented minorities, and the Department has committed funding to sponsor underrepresented trainees and faculty attendance at professional and leadership training programs each year, such as seminars, workshops, and symposia.
To take full advantage of the experience and wisdom of the phenomenal leaders in our Department, the second Eye- JEDI Grand Rounds was held in June 2022 and dedicated to leadership. Dr. Bartly J. Mondino, leader of the Department from 1994 to June 30, 2022, and Dr. Anne L. Coleman, chair as of July 1, 2022, shared their perspectives and firsthand experiences as effective leaders. Dr. Mondino started with the truth of being a department chair: “All power is illusory,” he quoted from Founding Chair, Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma. “A department chair—who should be fair, transparent, and keeping his or her promises—is judged by the performance of the department.”
Dr. Mondino said the three most important traits of successful leaders are intelligence, integrity, and innovation. Providing services and building credentials are the starting point. The ability to persuade followers to pursue the goals set by leaders is by far the most important element of leadership. Dr. Mondino stressed the ability to react, prepare, and take advantage of new opportunities makes an exceptional leader, saying there are times to lead, times to follow, and times to refrain from following.
Dr. Coleman presented the five dimensions of centered leadership: meaning, framing, connecting, engaging, and energizing. Dr. Coleman explained that a leader has to be inspired to take on the role to lead the team in creative and profound ways. “You have to be passionate about being a leader,” said Dr. Coleman. “A leader is able to positively frame situations and convert even difficult situations into opportunities. Connect with your team and colleagues, engage people in their missions, and sustain their energy in a long leadership journey.”
Dr. Coleman stressed the most important thing about being a leader is to be a member of the team, to listen, to do your best with intention, and to not always want credit. Dr. Coleman has been president of both the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Ophthalmological Society. “I became involved in both organizations because I wanted to give back, and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of my patients and my colleagues,” said Dr. Coleman.
“You have to be passionate about being a leader. A leader is able to positively frame situations and convert even difficult situations into opportunities. Connect with your team and colleagues, engage people in their missions, and sustain their energy in a long leadership journey.”
ANNE L. COLEMAN, MD, PHD
Catherine T. Cascavita
The Early Authentic Clinical Experience (EACE) Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) engages first-year DGSOM medical students in an immersive, real-life clinical and community experience. From October 2021 through July 2022, the EACE Program participated in a joint effort with the UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic (UMEC). Directed by Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD, Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Chair in Ophthalmology, UMEC provides free eye care services to under-resourced and vulnerable populations throughout Los Angeles.
EACE student and participant Catherine T. Cascavita, medical student year 1, says of her experience, “Over the past year, I have had the privilege of rotating with UMEC, which has allowed me to see the transformative impact the mobile eye clinic has around LA county, often providing patients with their first-ever eye exam and glasses. I have enjoyed working alongside and learning from UMEC’s dedicated staff who have shown and taught me the end to end process of community outreach.
”The EACE and UMEC collaboration provides students with robust opportunities to participate in community outreach, including vision-screening events for adults, preschool exams at local schools, and largescale health fairs. The students also receive a firsthand introduction into eye care services provided to medically underserved groups in Los Angeles County, additionally providing experience in assessing social determinants of health as they are related to eye diseases that cause visual impairment and blindness.
Women in Eye and Vision Research (WEAVR) is an initiative of the ARVO Foundation to further develop and strengthen women who are pursuing careers in the visual sciences. WEAVR supports and promotes networking, career development, and access to research opportunities for female vision scientists.
The May 3, 2022, WEAVR event included Stein Eye Institute and Doheny Eye Institute faculty members, academic personnel, fellows, and residents who were sponsored by the Department to attend the event.
J. Bronwyn Bateman, MD, Volunteer Faculty
Ava Bittner, OD, PhD, Faculty
Sarah Cheng, MD, Resident (EyeSTAR)
Sophie Deng, MD, PhD, Faculty
Amanda Lu, MD, Resident
Anna Matynia, PhD, Academic Personnel
Eunice Ng, Predoctoral Fellow
Roxana Radu, MD, Faculty
Lynn Shi, MD, Resident
Victoria Tseng, MD, PhD, Faculty
Xian-Jie Yang, PhD, Faculty
Wenlin Zhang, MD, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Stein Eye faculty and staff participate in a free vision-screening event at Dodger Stadium.
In addition to being a mobile eye clinic, UMEC serves as a training ground for first-year David Geffen School of Medicine students to have an immersive and real-life clinical and community experience. This learning opportunity helps medical students become more informed and empathetic health care providers.
From July 1–November 17, 2021, UMEC screened and/or examined 1,734 children and adults, and made 96 trips to bring access to eye care for under-resourced and medically underserved populations throughout Los Angeles County.
The Stein Eye Institute Center for Community Outreach and Policy’s UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic (UMEC) program, directed by Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD, The Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Chair in Ophthalmology, screened and/or examined 1,734 children and adults from July 1–November 17, 2021, and made 96 trips to bring access to eye care for under-resourced and medically underserved populations throughout Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation
In the first half of fiscal year 2021–22, UMEC collaborated with influential organizations, including the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation where they attended four events and provided free vision care services for 106 patrons. UMEC is participating in Los Angeles Dodgers events in spring and summer 2022, performing eye health screenings for a third year.
In the first half of the fiscal year, UMEC attended six health fairs serving 149 patients. UMEC found 73 cases of refractive error, 30 cataracts, 11 glaucoma suspects, and 40+ other diagnoses where further care or treatment is needed. For these health fairs, UMEC collaborated with a variety of student, government, and community organizations, such as UCLA Filipinos for Community Health, American University for Health Sciences Foundation, and the City of Maywood. We are passionate about providing compassionate and culturally aligned care with a significant impact throughout the Los Angeles community.
Percent Pledge and Dexcom
UMEC had an exciting collaboration with Percent Pledge and Dexcom over summer 2021. Percent Pledge creates customized workplace charity programs so companies can donate to any charity and/or volunteer in their local communities. One of Percent Pledge’s newest companies, Dexcom, makes continuous glucose monitoring systems for diabetes management. With UMEC and Percent Pledge’s help, Dexcom planned a volunteer project for their summer interns. Knowing that diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness, the Dexcom interns created valuable educational materials for children and adults in multiple languages about diabetes and how it affects the eye. Resources included pamphlets, flyers, healthy cooking recipes, and even 3D models of diabetic retinopathy.
Early Authentic Clinical Experience (EACE) Program
We are excited to announce a new academic program in collaboration with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The EACE program engages first-year DGSOM students in an immersive and real life clinical and community experience. The on-site component of EACE consists of 12 visits on the UMEC from October 2021–July 2022. The goal of EACE is to have students add value to their site by working collaboratively with the site team to advance the health and health care goals of the underrepresented and vulnerable communities UMEC serves.
Through experiential learning with UMEC, students learn to be compassionate, knowledgeable, and self-aware care providers with the skills and personal strengths necessary to deliver collaborative care with cultural humility. This experience gives students a firsthand introduction into the important eye care services provided to underserved groups of great need in our local Los Angeles community, while also giving them opportunities to interact with potential future mentors. Because UMEC also has ongoing partnerships with community organizations providing services to individuals experiencing housing insecurities throughout Los Angeles County, there will also be experiences available to assess social determinants of health as they relate to eye diseases that cause vision impairment and blindness.
Minority health opportunities:
If you are a minority student or are interested protecting the health of underrepresented populations or promoting health equity and eliminating health disparities, we have a variety of opportunities that provide hands-on training and a unique experience in many public health fields. These opportunities are highlighted here, but are also organized within the short-term internships and long-term fellowships at cdc.gov/fellowships. Fellowships for minorities and students interested in protecting the health of minority
The Rabb-Venable Excellence in Ophthalmology Program
The Rabb-Venable Excellence in Ophthalmology Program supports medical students, residents, and fellows in ophthalmology who are underrepresented in medicine or who desire to work in underserved communities. We are committed to increasing diversity in eye care to better reflect the U.S. population.
ARVO minority travel grants:
Each year the Diversity Initiatives Committee awards three minority fellowship travel grants. The ARVO SACNAS Eye and Vision Research Award is given to an individual with the best vision and ophthalmology-related abstract from the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science conference of that year. The ARVO Vision Research Minority Fellowship Award is awarded to an individual who has won a Rabb-Venable Excellence in Ophthalmology Award at that year’s U.S. National Medical Association’s annual convention (two awards given each year). The Rabb-Venable award is named in honor of Dr. Maurice Rabb, Jr., and Dr. H. Phillip Venable, two pioneering African American ophthalmologists and researchers. For more information about these grants, please contact email@example.com.
Funding opportunities for eye research
AUPO Resident and Fellow Research Forum
Recognizing promising house officers pursuing a career in academic ophthalmology and vision research.
The AUPO/RPB Resident and Fellow Research Forum was established through a grant provided by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). The AUPO believes strongly that skills learned by participating in research are an invaluable component of the education of an ophthalmologist. The establishment of the Resident and Fellow Research Forum acknowledges the importance of research in ophthalmic education and is intended to encourage the most promising house officers to pursue a career in academic ophthalmology and vision research. Through this forum AUPO promotes excellence in research by residents and fellows and identifies and supports individuals considering a career in ophthalmic research. Each year, AUPO schedules a session for the Forum as an integral part of the annual meeting. Travel-related expenses for the meeting are covered by AUPO; winners receive a cash award of $500 and a commemorative certificate.
RPB Medical Student Eye Research Fellowship
Department of Ophthalmology, UCLA
Fight for Sight Summer Student Fellowships
Resources for URM at DGSOM
DGSOM mentorship program
DGSOM EDI webpage
NANOS has a trainee resources. They can all be accessed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Academic Programs Administrator
100 Stein Plaza, Rm 2-132
Los Angeles, CA 90095