Our Fellowship

The National Retina Institute was established in March 1989 and, since its inception, has trained 44 (2 current) post-doctoral fellows in vitreoretinal surgery. This is a two-year medical and surgical fellowship conducted in an environment that combines cutting edge technology with compassionate care. Fellows selected for this program have completed a certified residency in ophthalmology and are board eligible ophthalmologists. Successful candidates are interviewed and selected through the ophthalmology fellowship matching program.

The primary goal of the fellowship is to provide comprehensive training in the medical and surgical management of vitreoretinal diseases. In addition to their clinical experience, fellows participate in major national clinical trials, development of new research studies, as well as the writing and presentation of manuscripts at major meetings. NRI fellows are prepared for their careers via educational sessions covering important areas of practice management.

The National Retina Institute is ACCME accredited for providing continuing medical education credits.

Mission Statement

To provide superior training in the medical and surgical management of vitreo-retinal diseases.

Program Overview

  • Two-year comprehensive medical and surgical vitreo-retinal fellowship
  • Broad exposure to diverse surgical techniques ranging from scleral buckling fundamentals to micro-incisional vitrectomy platforms
  • Direct involvement of standard and novel approaches to treat vitreoretinal diseases
  • Research requirement: Fellows are expected to publish a minimum of one scholarly article in an ophthalmology journal during fellowship. Fellows are strongly encouraged to present research findings at national meetings such as AAO, ARVO, and ASRS.
  • Exposure to practice management concepts such as biling, coding, and resource utilizations
  • Participation in Ophthalmology Fellowship Match Program.


All fellows receive training and mentoring by Drs. Vinod Lakhanpal, Joshua N. Steiner and Olga Shif. NRI fellows are trained in all aspects of vitreoretinal care as well as cutting-edge technologies including high-speed ICG video angiography, spectral-domain OCT, laser feeder vessel therapy, macular microperimetry, and innovative laser technologies including infrared and micropulse laser techniques.

Educational Program – Basic Curriculum

The National Retina Institute Fellowship program is a two-year training program that trains fellows to be comprehensive medical and surgical specialists in the area of vitreoretinal diseases and surgery.

The first year of fellowship emphasizes the development of the examination and diagnostic techniques required for the care of the vitreoretinal patient. During the first year the fellows are expected to review the primary source literature that provides a foundation for the evidence for treatment of retinal disease. This review is conducted independently and supplemented with tutorials with the attending physicians.

The second year of fellowship emphasizes continued development of clinical skills with particular attention given to management and therapeutic decision making. The second year fellow has progressively increasing responsibility for patient care in the clinic.

The National Retina Institute provides surgical training in basic and advanced surgical techniques. Hands-on surgical skills are introduced throughout the two years of training with increasing levels of fellow participation being introduced throughout the fellowship.

Fellows participate in clinical research throughout the fellowship. The National Retina Institute participates in many multi-center clinical trials.  In addition the fellows design and conduct their own IRB approved research projects within the practice. An emphasis is placed on learning clinical research, methodology, and presentation skills.


Fellows are evaluated in a bi-annual review conducted by the attending physicians. The progress of the fellows is evaluated in the areas of medical knowledge, surgical skill, professionalism, and interpersonal skills. Feedback to fellows is also provided informally throughout the fellowship process.

Contact Information

Program Director: Vinod Lakhanpal, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Fellowship Coordinator: Ruth E. Classon

Telephone: (443) 921-4164

Fax: (410) 847-9240

E-mail: rclasson@natonalretina com.

Main Office
901 Dulaney Valley Road Suite 200, Towson, MD 21204-0603
Telephone: (410) 337-4500 | Fax: (410) 847-9240


  • Brad Sgrignoli, D.O.
  • Paymohn Mahdavi, M.D.
  • Tahsin Choudhury, M.D.
  • Olga Shif, M.D.
  • Solly Elmann, M.D.
  • Matthew S. J. Katz, M.D.
  • Alexandre Gauthier, M.D.
  • Angela Boxjolie, D.O.
  • Yi Zhang, M.D.
  • Walid Mangal, D.O.
  • Christiane Hunt, D.O.
  • Ann Igbre, M.D.
  • Kapil Sampat, D.O.
  • Azad Mansouri, M.D.
  • Khurram Malik, M.D.
  • Hugo Linares, D.O.
  • Blonie W. Dudney, Jr., M.D.
  • Joshua N. Steiner, M.D.
  • Scott M. Pfahler, D.O.
  • John Y. Choi, M.D.
  • Geetanjali Davuluri, M.D.
  • Martin Boscarino, M.D.
  • Nazanin Barzideh, M.D.
  • Michael H. Grodin, D.O.
  • Richard K. Chiu, D.O.
  • Jeffery N. Stephens, M.D.
  • Paul L. Winslow, M.D.
  • Min-Kyu Han, M.D.
  • Roy E. Tuller, D.O.
  • James K. Luu, M.D.
  • Thomas A. Baudo, M.D.
  • Shann B. Lin, M.D.
  • Jorge H. Gutierrez-Dorrington, M.D.
  • Lih Teh Wu, M.D.
  • Bernard Godley, M.D.
  • Pauline R. Gagnon, M.D.
  • Jeffrey S. Rubin, M.D.
  • Stephen S. Pappas, Jr.,M.D.
  • Lawrence W. Gordon, M.D.
  • Darmakusuma Le, M.D.
  • Mary B. Lansing, M.D.
  • Alan J. Gordon, M.D.
  • Baruch D. Kuppermann, M.D.
  • Raymond N.Sjaarda, M.D.
  • John B. Carter, M.D.
  • Robert W. Wehner, M.D.


“We tend to enter the fellowship process thinking of prestigious university based programs, but then we realize that the accomplishments of Dr. Glaser rank NRI on a par or even ahead of the best retina centers in the world. Training with him and the attending staff gave me a chance to participate in the delivery of care in a real world setting and not in an ivory tower.”

Dr. Lihteh Wu, Associate Professor
University of Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica
Completed NRI Fellowship 1998

Whether private practice or university based, advanced medical and surgical training is only as good as the people who set the curriculum and do the instructing. Dr. Bert M. Glaser, founder and executive director of NRI, is an internationally known retinal surgeon, researcher, innovator and teacher. Until 1989, he was professor of Ophthalmology and director of the Center for Vitreoretinal Research at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins.

Several prestigious medical societies have recognized his accomplishments in developing and implementing advanced surgical and imaging technologies for macular degeneration, macular holes, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy. He has been honored by the Macula Society, the Retina Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Association for Retinal Vision and Ophthalmology. He also serves on the editorial board of Retina: The Journal of Retinal and Vitreous Disease. He is the author of more than 124 articles in peer review journals.

Under his leadership, the attending physicians and supporting staff of The National Retina Institute have emerged as a major entity in the education and advancement of retinal care in the nation and world.


“At the end of each day, I’m happy to say my mentors and colleagues always left the office as friends. Dr. Glaser and the attending physicians gave us the time, encouragement and confidence to do well.”

Dr. Nazanin Barzideh, Attending Physician
Danbury Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Danbury, CT
Completed NRI Fellowship 2007

Mentoring is more than simply a word at The National Retina Institute. It is a process ingrained in the makeup of each of the attending staff of physicians. If you are going to work here you are going to teach. Mentoring in surgery means to follow the philosophy that Dr. Glaser borrowed from the military’s method of pilot training: Cognition, Automation, Integration. Recognize your situation, train your mind and body to automatically proceed in response, know enough to adapt to changes and opportunities that present themselves.

So equipped, fellows become valuable members of the surgical team and proceed beyond the assisting level to surgeon in charge. Still your mentor is there to observe and to impart the wisdom of his or her experience. Mentors are close to their fellows at NRI, and are rightfully proud of what their trainees have accomplished.


“There are so many nuances to doing good retinal surgery, many of which can’t be learned from a textbook. While I was at NRI, I found it very helpful to have the insight and feedback from the staff surgeons—whether in the operating room or in clinic. I think the fellowship strikes a good balance between having the autonomy to develop one’s skills and the oversight to know how to sharpen them.”

Dr. Richard K. Chiu, Assistant Professor
University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS
Completed NRI Fellowship 2006

It is natural for aspiring clinicians to want to go it on their own as soon as possible. No doubt there are programs that believe in this trial by fire as a means to testing the mettle of a would-be retina surgeon. The curriculum of The National Retina Institute program doesn’t shy away from pressing the issue, but the approach is much more measured.

The NRI retina surgical simulator is an incredible tool in familiarizing trainees to recognize particulars of a retinal disorder and to implement correct surgical techniques. Oversight by an attending physician, also viewing through the simulator, guarantees that procedures learned and repeated will be those that are accepted and ideally suited to each situation. This oversight will follow as the trainee moves on to use his or her acquired skills to aid NRI patients.

It is NRI’s belief, and the record has confi rmed, that this less stressful and more thorough teaching protocol leads to better trained and more successful retina surgeons.


“Monthly meetings with members of the attending staff involved an in-depth discussion on a wide variety of medical and surgical retina topics. These one on one discussions were extremely valuable to me. The fellowship provides the ideal mix of academics and hands-on clinical experience.”

Dr. Martin A. Boscarino, Attending Physician
Associates in Ophthalmology, West Mifflin, PA
Completed NRI Fellowship 2007

By the time residency is completed, it is understandable that those who invest in advanced training are anxious to leave the classroom behind and begin a working apprenticeship in their chosen specialty. As mentioned earlier, a heavy and efficient patient flow at NRI is certain to fulfill the trainees desire for hands-on experience.

Still, as advanced training proceeds so does the need to understand, to review and to seek new methodology and technology in this ever developing field. A monthly review meeting, case conferences, journal club and research meetings are important, as is the institute’s commitment to a full program of research, clinical trials, seminars and technological innovation that surround the practice and the fellowship program.


“I came to NRI because I wanted to get strong clinical training but maintain my interest in research. It’s not easy to find both. NRI certainly has a good balance with its combination of excellent clinicians, large diverse patient population, and commitment to research.”

Dr. Geeta Davuluri, Attending Physician (beg. 2008)
The National Retina Institute, Towson, MD
Completed NRI Fellowship 2008

The founding of The National Retina Institute brought with it a mission to fully engage in all aspects of vitreoretinal therapy and knowledge. Because of Dr. Glaser’s background as a researcher as well as a surgeon, the research component of NRI is continuously and fully occupied and engages a full time clinical trials director.

Because of the nature of retinal disease, non-surgical therapy is often a complement to surgical procedures and frequently a stand alone method of treatment in itself. Attending physicians and fellows alike avail themselves of NRI research and, together with Dr. Glaser, seek to further their ability to treat retinal disorders through innovation and research. Fellows interested in the research aspect of their specialty are encouraged to apply.

Cutting Edge

“It is wonderful to be in an environment that strives to stay ahead of the field. Dr. Glaser always seeks to develop and improve new procedures and treatments.”

Dr. Jeffrey S. Rubin, Private Practitioner
Jeffrey S. Rubin, MD, Brooklyn, NY
Completed NRI Fellowship 1995

The National Retina Institute was not founded with the idea of repeating the past. Forward thinking in every aspect of this ever evolving field, Dr. Glaser and the attending staff of physicians continue to do the clinical and applied basic research, controlled studies and case reviews that put them at the cutting edge of vitreoretinal therapy. Members of the clinical staff are frequent authors of peer review articles that have aided patient treatment all over the world.

NRI is responsible for important breakthroughs in the treatment of retinal disorders. Yet, it realizes that with diseases so devastating to the quality of life of so many people, there are many breakthroughs still to be discovered. That is the NRI mission.


“NRI realizes the increasing importance of technology in diagnosing retinal disease, and has invested in instruments that few others have.”

Dr. Shann B. Lin, Attending Physician
The Eye Care Center, Pottsville, PA
Completed NRI Fellowship 2000

The recent growth in imaging technology has become a major factor in the improved treatment of retinal disorders. NRI is a prime example of a practice that has made good use of advanced technology in detecting and treating patients with retina disease. One of the reasons that NRI is the recipient of referred complex cases is the institution’s considerable investment in the latest imaging equipment and diagnostic technologies. In fact, NRI has been and continues to be a leader in adopting and developing the use of numerous imaging and testing technologies. This ability has led to a more complete understanding and treatment of retina problems.

For doctors developing surgical skills, NRI’s surgical simulator has resulted in a better and more confident approach toward recognizing, reacting and performing surgery on the retina.

Practice Management

“It is not a small thing to know how to operate a practice successfully. The NRI staff is not only a model for us to follow but they take the time to teach us how it’s done.”

Dr. Jeffery N. Stephens, Attending Physician
Vision Associates, Toledo, OH
Completed NRI Fellowship 2005

As one of the most successful private practices in the retina field, NRI relies heavily on its large staff to keep its operations running smoothly and profitably. Staff members who have contact with patients are trained to offer the same courtesies, concern and caring attitude as do the attending physicians. Fellows in the program will notice that there is an “NRI Way” of handling patient flow that is unique in the profession.

Coding is, of course, the financial life blood of practice management. At NRI, you will be taught to not only code correctly and fairly, but to do so in an efficient and instinctive manner so that your time with patients is maximized.