FIRST Retinal Stars

SriniVas Sadda, MD

President & Chief Scientific Officer

One of my enthusiasms across research areas is cultivating collaboration. I’m happy to say that for the youngest cohort of doctors in ophthalmology, collaborative work and communication skills are becoming part of the training in the field. Technology encourages this connectedness, but relational skills are also critical.

Fostering Innovative Retinal Stars of Tomorrow (FIRST) is a program designed specifically to identify tomorrow’s leaders in the field and provide early mentorship and guidance to ensure that they are comfortable collaborating widely and meaningfully. The goal is to see advances in research that go as far as possible, as quickly as possible.

FIRST is a selective education initiative sponsored by Allergan. Nominees are carefully considered, and only those invited can then apply for the training opportunity. FIRST offers the kind of insights and coaching that I wish I’d been afforded early in my career, but that usually don’t happen in traditional residency programs: How to present effectively; how to convene colleagues to problem solve; how to design a study; how to critically evaluate data and arrive at a range of conclusions.

All of these skills are essential to our work, and not entirely intuitive. These are skills worth defining, honing and practicing. The inaugural cohort of FIRST doctors met at ARVO in Seattle early this summer, and they’ve now formed teams, each with four or five members, to work on group projects.

To hear more about the range of collaborations among our colleagues at Doheny, in Los Angeles and around the world, I hope you’ll listen to part two of my conversation on the Doheny Podcast Network. It is always a privilege to bring together great doctors in the effort to eradicate eye disease. Now the FIRST program propels that vision into the future.


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