Peter Barry Fellowships awarded

Three young ophthalmologists can go to an ophthalmic centre of their choice to pursue research

Dermot McGrath

Posted: Monday, October 9, 2017

ESCRS President David Spalton and Carmel Barry with Nino Hirnschall, Luis Fernández-Vega and Myriam Böhm, recipients of the inaugural Peter Barry Fellowships.

Three young European ophthalmologists have earned the right to go to an ophthalmic centre of their choice in order to pursue their research courtesy of the inaugural Peter Barry Fellowship, which were announced at the opening ceremony of the XXXV Congress of the ESCRS in Lisbon.

Luis Fernández-Vega from Spain, Nino Hirnschall from Austria and Myriam Böhm from Germany will each receive the fellowship award of €50,000, enabling them to further their training at a centre of excellence anywhere in the world.

The ESCRS established the annual fellowship to honour the immense contribution of the late Peter Barry to European and global ophthalmology. Peter’s wife, Carmel, was on hand at the opening ceremony to present the awards to the three designated candidates.

“It was agreed by all the ESCRS Board members that this was the most fitting way we could remember Peter and honour his legacy,” said David Spalton, President of the ESCRS. “He was a tremendous driver of the ESCRS and was particularly keen on the involvement of younger trainees, which he always insisted were the lifeblood of the organisation for the future,” he added.

Prof Spalton said that picking clear winners for the fellowships had not been an easy task. The judging panel had been impressed with the high standard of entries, which augured well for the future health of European ophthalmology.

For Luis Fernández-Vega, who is currently doing a cornea fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, the Peter Barry Fellowship represents a golden opportunity to further his research on keratoconus and other ocular pathologies.

“This is a huge honour for me as I am the fifth generation of my family to pursue a career in ophthalmology. I am very excited to do this fellowship at the renowned Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, United States, in order to learn different approaches to pathologies that are less common in Europe and new surgical options. I am sure I will also meet very interesting people and will try to acquire as much knowledge as possible,” he said.

Nino Hirnschall, who is currently working at Hanusch Hospital in Vienna, Austria, and the Vienna Institute for Research in Ocular Surgery under Prof Oliver Findl, said that he will use the grant to pursue a cornea fellowship at Sydney Eye Hospital in Australia.

“I hope to obtain valuable experience in corneal surgery and complex cataract cases. I also aim to further my research in fields such as irregular astigmatism and its correction, keratoconus and complex keratitis cases,” he said.

Myriam Böhm received her doctorate from the University of Cologne in Germany in 2013 and is currently completing her fourth year of residency, while also pursuing research at Goethe University in Frankfurt under Prof Thomas Kohnen.

She will be embarking on her fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEEI) and the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School in the United States.

“I hope to develop my ophthalmological and research skills in order to advance and develop my ability to answer questions that concern clinicians in daily practice, as embodied in the spirit of the Peter Barry Fellowship. I am so proud and feel very privileged at being given the opportunity to represent Europe as a young ophthalmologist in the United States,” she said.