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14 Robert WoodJohnson
ileen Hwang,
Ophthalmology Residency
Program, Moran Eye Center,
University of Utah School
of Medicine
oday I completed my first
evisceration," or surgical re-
moval of the eye, said a very proud Dr. Hwang early in
her first full year of ophthalmology training. Following a
preliminary year in internal medicine, she was thrilled
that her first rotation, oculoplastics, provided challeng-
ing, hands-on experience in surgery, the field that origi-
nally led her to ophthalmology.
The Moran Eye Center, in Salt Lake City, offers com-
prehensive clinical training, serving a six-state area and
caring for 120,000 patients each year. Each floor is divid-
ed between patient care and basic research, enhancing
opportunities for translational research. Most trainees
participate in medical missions abroad and on reserva-
tions in the West.
While earning her MD, Dr. Hwang completed a PhD in
the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. At Moran, in
collaboration with two senior faculty members, she is
investigating the role of genetic risk factors and serum
biomarkers for age-related macular degeneration. The
ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists)
Foundation awarded her a one-year, $15,000 grant,
which Moran will match in the following two years of
her residency.
Orthopaedic Surgery Residency
Program, University of California,
San Francisco (UCSF)
r. Langhammer was headed for
a career in orthopedic-focused
research when he discovered how much he enjoyed the
pace of patient care. During his first two years in the
Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program at UCSF, he
received general training in various surgical fields. Now
in his third year, he is excited to be gaining hands-on
operative experience in orthopedics and mentoring
second-year trainees.
"USCF is ideal for me," he says. "As an academic,
research, and tertiary care center, we get lots of referrals
from community physicians--unusual cases that even
UCSF may not have seen. But we may have seen something
similar, and from there, we can develop a treatment plan
using a combination of approaches."
Dr. Langhammer earned his undergraduate degree from
Princeton University, where he did orthopedic-related
research in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering. During medical school, he earned a PhD in
biomedical engineering from Rutgers University, focusing
on a new type of neural interface that would restore better
capabilities to patients with prostheses.
eorge Patounakis,
Fellowship in Reproductive
Endocrinology and Infertility,
National Institutes of
Health (NIH)/Walter Reed
National Military Medical Center
ith a PhD in electrical engineering, I thought I
might become a cardiologist," says Dr. Patounakis,
who went to medical school after earning an engineering
degree. "But I found my OB/GYN rotation so interesting
that I followed up with electives in the division of
maternal-fetal medicine and the division of reproductive
endocrinology and infertility. And that clinched it for me.
I enjoyed surgery, learned a lot, and made good connec-
tions with patients."
Dr. Patounakis completed his residency at Thomas
Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia, while con-
tinuing research in collaboration with colleagues at
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, studying genetic
factors that influence embryo implantation.
In his three-year fellowship at the NIH, his research
focuses on understanding the effects of the cellular
organelles on reproductive health, investigating whether
these parts of the cell can be changed or somehow used
to predict the reproductive potential of the egg. "The
NIH is an exciting place to be," he says. "It's an oppor-
tunity to pursue my research alongside world experts."
Dividing his time equally between clinical work and
research, Dr. Patounakis works on infertility issues with
military couples at Walter Reed. In addition, he sees both
civilian and military patients at the NIH clinic, learning
about and addressing rarer forms of endocrine disease.