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Public Health Ophthalmology (PHO) program

Public Health Ophthalmology (PHO) fellowship program of the Dana Center for Preventative Ophthalmology (A World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness).


This program is designed to help eye care professionals to develop skills in applying public health principles to blindness prevention.


An academic program lasting for 1 or more years assists the student in acquiring skills in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and the application of public health techniques to national and international problems in ophthalmology. Typically, one candidate per year is considered for the program and may be either a clinician-scientist or a PhD candidate or graduate. Clinician-scientists have often used the K award program of the NIH (see Clinician-Scientist training program of the Wilmer Institute). Candidates for the degrees of Master of Public Health or the PhD. typically enroll simultaneously with the fellowship at the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins.

Through mentors from Dana Center faculty, the Public Health Ophthalmology (PHO) program exposes students to the principal public health issues in eye disease, through coursework at the School of Public Health, seminars designed for the program of the individual fellow, visiting lecturers from around the world, and a thesis project that is written to describe a useful program of vision assessment, care or evaluation, with the goal of implementation thereof after completion of the program.


Graduate ophthalmologists, optometrists or research scientists with a career interest in public health programs in eye care.


The Dana Center seeks to assist those who wish to improve the eye health of those in the U.S. or abroad. Students who are not U.S. citizens are expected to return to their home country after training. We encourage and support programs that involve Dana Center personnel in subsequent research programs of past fellows.


The Dana Center has limited endowment to support some costs of the fellowship, but primarily supports applications by candidates for other support for their costs. Tuition and expenses for the Master of Public Health degree program are expected to be approximately $55,000 for that year.


In 1984, the past Dean of the School of Public Health, Alfred Sommer, M.D., conceived a program to train ophthalmologists in epidemiology and in the problems of world blindness. The causes of blindness are embedded in each community and a public health perspective is required to measure the extent of blinding diseases, to characterize the unique risk factors that each poses and to develop effective and practical approaches to prevention and treatment.

The Dana Center of the Wilmer Eye Institute and The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provide an unparalleled setting for public health and ophthalmology. Wilmer contributes a broad range of expertise in ophthalmic practice and research in the United States, and perhaps the world. The Bloomberg School of Public Health offers the perspective of epidemiologic research and community-based action. The Dana Center, by virtue of its Public Health Ophthalmology experts and biostatisticians, can uniquely support this program.

An important part of the program is practical experience in research design, implementation, and analysis. Many fellows have written a thesis that consists of a protocol for an epidemiologic study of an ocular problem or a public health program geared toward ophthalmic problems. These vary from surveys of the prevalence of blindness under conditions typical for a specific area of the world to clinical trials of alternative therapies for ophthalmic disorders. This thesis provides practical application of the principles demonstrated in introductory epidemiology classes, and provides a vehicle for implementation of the principles and techniques learned in the fellowship program. The preparation of a budget during this process gives a practical reality to the logistics and costs of such activities, and begins the process of resource generation. The project is honed in consultation with an assigned Dana Center faculty member expert in its subject matter. It is presented to the faculty for discussion before being written in final form.

Candidates will be selected from the pool of interested applicants, on the basis of their background, letters of recommendation, and indications of future commitment to and success in carrying out blindness prevention activities.


Our graduates have:
* become the Brazilian representative to the American Health Organization,
* organized a national blindness survey in Fiji,
* consulted for Helen Keller International in Vitamin A deficiency,
* became chief medical officer in Zambia
* headed preventive ophthalmic services for South Australia
* became the in-country director for International Eye Foundation, Malawi,
* joined the faculty of the Wilmer Eye Institute,
* designed a national blindness prevention program in Rwanda,
* served as medical director for Project Orbis,
* conducted a blindness survey in Bulgaria,
* studied effectiveness of diabetes treatment in Chile,
* conducted a population-based survey of angle-closure glaucoma in Taiwan,
* served as regional director of blindness prevention in a province in India,
* proposed the first major blindness survey in Latin America,
* evaluated the effect of cataract surgery on quality of life and vision in India, and
* served as WHO blindness prevention director, Nepal.


Harry Quigley, MD, (Program Director; Glaucoma);
Sheila West, PhD (Cataract, Trachoma);
James Tielsch, PhD (Glaucoma, Epidemiology);
Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS (Ophthalmic Epidemiology, Executive Leadership);
Oliver Schein, MD, MPH (Cataract, Corneal Diseases);
Joanne Katz, ScD (Nutritional Blindness, Ophthalmic Applications of Biostatistics);
David Friedman, MD, PhD, MPH (Glaucoma, Evidence-Based Review);
Kevin Frick, PhD (Health Economics and Ophthalmic Disease);
Emily Gower, PhD (Clinical Trials)


Further inquiries regarding the Dana Center Fellowship program can be directed to:

Michelle Matthews, Administrative Supervisor

Wilmer Room 116
600 N. Wolfe St.
Baltimore, MD 21287

Phone: (410) 955-3954
Fax: (410) 614-9651

Applicants interested in applying to the Master of Public Health program of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Information on the MPH program, including an online application are available at:

An online application can be submitted, beginning at the following webpage:

Note: please copy these addresses from this document, and paste them into your browser address line.

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