Ocular pathology provides the basis of our understanding of how disease can alter the function of the eye. In many cases, tissue samples studied under the microscope provide important information for conditions that elude simple diagnosis. The ophthalmic pathologist can be faced with extremely difficult situations where it is not clear, even with the most sophisticated techniques, whether a lesion is benign or cancerous. We have been developing strategies to assist in the diagnosis of several of these conditions, which may help preserve the vision and even the life of our patients.
The Ottawa Registry of Ophthalmic Pathology was started at the Ottawa Hospital, General Campus in 1971. The Registry receives ocular specimens from the hospital associated with the University of Ottawa, as well as from many Ottawa regional hospitals and medical institutions across Canada.
At present, the ophthalmic pathology units has more than 12 ongoing research projects, including collaborative studies with faculty members from various departments at the University of Ottawa and externally with other universities (e.g. University of Montreal, McGill University, and the University of Toronto). Areas of research include ocular neoplasia, inflammation and infections, degenerations and vascular disorders, infiltrations, congenital and hereditary anomalies, glaucoma and trauma.
Research projects undertaken by other subspecialties at the University of Ottawa Eye Institute rely heavily on the ocular pathology unit.
Dr. Seymour Brownstein, an experienced authority in ocular pathology, has developed a state-of-the art ocular pathology laboratory, which includes an annual 1-year fellowship.
Objectives of the Ophthalmic Pathology Research Fellowship:
Learning to Organize and Run the Ophthalmic Pathology Laboratory under Dr. Brownstein’s Supervision:
The fellow learns day to day operation of the ophthalmic laboratory including the gross processing and histopathological examination of the ocular specimens. The fellow thus promoting the development of diagnostic histopathological and research expertise reviews all specimens with Dr. Brownstein after thorough evaluation of each case. Skills acquired include learning gross photography, photomicroscopy, immunohistochemical techniques, and electron microscopy. The ophthalmic pathology team seeks out research opportunities arising from careful and thorough pathological examinations, which are correlated with clinical findings.
Teaching Ophthalmic Pathology:
The fellow participates in our teaching program in ophthalmic pathology. This includes teaching elective medical students, who rotate through our Ophthalmic Pathology Research Laboratory, some of which become future research fellows and/or residents in our program. The fellow also participates in the organization and presentation of research studies including utilization of Dr. Brownstein’s interactive didactic lectures. At the Ophthalmology Department’s Grand Rounds the fellow has the opportunity to fully participate and present interesting clinical-pathological cases. The fellow is invited to participate in all the academic activities of both the ophthalmology and pathology departments of the University of Ottawa and usually attends professor rounds and local conferences for several hours weekly.
The fellow participates in a large variety of clinical and basic science research projects, which often leads to first authorship of peer-review publications. The majority of our fellows co-author several manuscripts, averaging 5 to 6 annually, obtain funding for their research usually through our Department of Ophthalmology’s Research Fund (DORF), and present their research studies at one or more major research conferences such as the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in early May each year. The fellow presents their research at the Research Day of both the Departments of Ophthalmology and Laboratory Medicine (Pathology) with over 70 % of the fellows having been awarded the 1st or 2nd prize for the best paper during their year of training.
Overall we provide a very diversified and stimulating year with many research opportunities, which should augment the future career of our fellows, whether they decide to devote themselves to academic ophthalmology, pathology, another subspecialty fellowship or general ophthalmologic or pathologic practice. Many of the fellows match (within CaRMS) into the specialty of their choice in highly respected institutions following the fellowship year. Furthermore, two-thirds of the fellows subsequently obtain additional post-residency subspecialty training, which adds to their academic research and clinical repertoire. Our fellowship position is highly respected by major academic and clinical University centers nationally and internationally.