Recipients of ICO/Bayer Clinical Bursary in Ophthalmology 2023 Announced

The Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO), the training and professional body for eye doctors, is delighted to announce and congratulate Dr Barry Power and Dr Karen Curtin who have been awarded the ICO/Bayer Clinical Bursary in Ophthalmology 2023. 

Dr Karen Curtin, a final year ICO Higher Medical Ophthalmology Trainee and Specialist Registrar at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital will undertake a Medical Retina Clinical Fellowship at the internationally renowned Bristol Eye Hospital in the UK.  Dr Curtin’s one year fellowship will commence from August this year under the supervision and guidance of Ms Serena Salvatore, Head of Medical Retina, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr. Barry Power, a final year ICO Higher Surgical Ophthalmology Trainee and Specialist Registrar at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin has secured a one-year Cornea and Anterior Segment Fellowship at the Greenlane Clinical Centre and University of Auckland in New Zealand.  Dr Power’s fellowship training will commence in January 2024 under the supervision of Professor Charles McGhee, Maurice Paykel Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland and Director, New Zealand National Eye Centre.

The ICO Clinical Bursary in Ophthalmology is intended to support a trainee to access a high-quality training opportunity overseas to prepare for a future career in this subspecialty and bring the skillset back to the Irish healthcare service. 

Application is open to ICO trainees nearing the end or recently finished their Higher Surgical Training or Higher Medical Training.  The ICO Clinical Bursary programme, with support from Bayer, has been instrumental in facilitating exceptional specialty training for ICO trainees in centers of excellence internationally over the past decade.

Dr Karen Curtin’s fellowship programme at Bristol Eye Hospital provides advanced subspecialty training in medical retinal, uveitis and related ocular inflammatory diseases.  The hospital also has a very active Clinical Research Unit where, as a Fellow, Dr Curtin will have the opportunity to work as a clinical trial sub-investigator and experience first-hand how clinical trials are conducted.

Commenting on the fellowship award, Dr. Curtin said,

“I am delighted to be awarded this bursary.  My aim through this fellowship is to become an expert in diagnosing and treating sight threatening uveitis with immunosuppressants, to develop an in-depth knowledge in inherited retinal dystrophies and ocular malignancy and to solidify my knowledge acquired to date in medical retina and multi-modal retinal imaging.

The fellowship will give me a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with Prof Andrew Dick, a leading expert in the management of complex ocular inflammatory disease, whose seminal work (VISUAL I, VISUAL II AND SYCAMORE) generated the evidence and scientific rationale that led to both the use and UK state funding of anti-Tumour Necrosis Factor(TNF)  agents in the treatment of non-infectious ocular inflammatory disease. I will have exposure to very rare and complex uveitis cases which will help me to develop the level of understanding and clinical acumen needed to become an expert in this field.

My goal is to acquire the skills and knowledge to take up a post as a Consultant Medical Ophthalmologist on my return to Ireland with a sub-specialist interest in Uveitis and Medical Retina.

The Cornea and Anterior Segment Fellowship in Auckland where Dr Barry Power will undertake his sub specialty training has a world-class reputation, offering successful candidates an opportunity to access the most cutting-edge techniques in corneal surgery.

The fellowship has an 80% clinical, and 20% academic split under the leadership of Professor Charles McGhee. Fellows are also exposed to high volumes of complex cataract surgery and anterior segment reconstructions.

Speaking about his forthcoming fellowship, Dr Power said,

This fellowship is a combined cornea and anterior segment training experience, with exposure to high volumes of infectious and inflammatory keratitis, keratoconus, ocular cicatrizing disease, ocular surface neoplasia and advanced corneal surface disease.  I will bring home the latest clinical and surgical skills relating to all forms of corneal transplantation. I chose this fellowship as it will provide me with a unique corneal and anterior segment training experience that will add to the corneal expertise already present in Ireland.

The anterior segment training is a key component of the fellowship where I will develop robust anterior segment repair and secondary IOL skills. I am also eager to learn from the ways the unit in Auckland involves the multidisciplinary team in the management of patients. I hope this fresh perspective may allow the development of our own practices in Ireland.”

Dr Power was recently involved with setting up the Down Syndrome Keratoconus screening programme at The Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital.  This is an example, Dr Power said, of a patient population he hopes will  benefit from his specialty training on his return to Ireland.

Miss Yvonne Delaney, ICO Dean of Postgraduate Education said,

“I am delighted to congratulate Dr Curtin and Dr Power on securing these outstanding international fellowship programmes and wish them both every success in their further training. 

The service demand in medical retina continues to grow at an exponential rate in Ireland due to a rapidly ageing population and the advancements in treatments over the past two decades.  Dr Curtin’s skill set will provide an invaluable service to the Irish healthcare system on her return.

Dr Power’s sub specialty training will elevate his surgical skills to an outstanding competence level in PKP, DALK, DSAEK and DMEK surgery and in cataract surgery, where our high-volume cataract units continue to require skilled and masterful surgeons.

The College wishes to thank Bayer for their continued support in facilitating ICO trainees to undertake an exceptional clinical fellowship overseas and the tremendous potential this has for the future of ophthalmic specialists working in the Irish health service.

Commenting on the Bursary announcement, Mr. Neil O’Connor, Product Manager, Ophthalmology, Bayer Ireland, said,

“Bayer Ireland are delighted to be able to continue our long term support of the Irish College of Ophthalmologists ICO/Bayer Clinical Bursary in Ophthalmology for 2023. It is fantastic to see so many trainees benefit from this funding and hear how much the recipients have valued the support and expertise they are bringing back to benefit Irish patients.  We wish Drs Power and Curtin all the best with their placements and look forward to hearing of their success in the coming years.”

19th June 2023