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Moran Introduces Oculoplastics and Medical Retina Fellowships

Robert Kersten, MD, FACS, FASOPRS, left, and Sudarshan “Sudi” Srivatsan, MD, the first oculoplastic fellow at the Moran Eye Center.
Robert Kersten, MD, FACS, FASOPRS, left, and Sudarshan “Sudi” Srivatsan, MD, the first oculoplastic fellow at the Moran Eye Center.

While John A. Moran Eye Center oculoplastic surgeon Robert Kersten, MD, FACS, FASOPRS, is renowned for his surgical skills, he’s also known as a top educator who has authored books and received awards for his work teaching and training the next generation of specialists.

At Moran, he directs an American Society of Oculofacial Plastic Surgery (ASOPRS)-approved fellowship, working with practicing fellow Sudarshan “Sudi” Srivatsan, MD.

One of only about 20 such fellowships offered each year in the United States, the two-year ASOPRS program is one of the nation’s most rigorous and came with Kersten when he joined the Moran faculty in 2023.

“The training has to meet strict criteria for approval based on the number and mix of surgical cases and the availability and cooperative work with surgeons in ancillary programs such as neurosurgery, otolaryngology, ocular pathology, and neuro-ophthalmology,” explains Kersten.

The ASOPRS requires fellows to author a designated number of articles, make national and international presentations, and undergo demanding testing each year. They must publish at least one original thesis and pass yearly written and oral board exams.

“Moran presents an excellent environment for exposure to a vast range of oculoplastic cases given the extensive referral area and additional hands-on training at the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Primary Children’s Hospital,” says Kersten.

“Fellows also have the advantage of training with my partner, Joon Kim, MD. We see challenging and reportable cases on an almost weekly basis.”

Srivatsan says, "It's been gratifying to work as a team with two of the pre-eminent oculoplastic surgeons in the country. I gain new insights into diagnosis and treatment every day. I'm nearly halfway through my fellowship and excited about what lies ahead."

Kersten has mentored hundreds of residents and over 40 fellows in his field and describes teaching as a calling.

“Sudi has been a dream to work with,” says Kersten. “He never fails to run important clinical findings to ground and frequently enlightens us with reviews of the recent literature as it pertains to challenging management cases. And, he has a good sense of humor.”

Medical Retina Fellowship Addresses Growing Need

Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg, MD, left, and Brian Solinsky, MD, the first medical retina fellow at the Moran Eye Center.
Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg, MD, left, and Brian Solinsky, MD, the first medical retina fellow at the Moran Eye Center.

Retinal specialist and internationally recognized expert in age-related macular degeneration, Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg, MD, oversees Moran’s new medical retina fellowship, a position that is being offered in a growing number of institutions nationwide.

“The medical management of several vitreous, retina, and choroidal diseases has seen major breakthroughs and important developments in recent years, along with an increasing number of patients with these conditions,” says Schmitz-Valckenberg. “With the medical retina fellowship, we can address the increasing need for well-trained specialists in the field. Moran offers a diverse and in-depth learning environment with a renowned retina faculty that shares a special interest in teaching and training young colleagues.”

The fellowship offers ample opportunities to intensively interact with the faculty, ophthalmology residents, and medical students. It includes conferences, journal clubs, and rounds. At Moran, trainees actively participate in imaging analysis at the Utah Retinal Reading Center, directed by Schmitz-Valckenberg. Fellows also have the opportunity to participate in local and international outreach with Moran's Global Outreach Division.

As Moran’s first medical retina fellow, Brian Solinsky, MD, says he paved the way for future fellows by giving feedback to a faculty willing to listen and shape the best clinical and research experience possible.

“The opportunities at Moran are unparalleled,” says Solinsky. “I don’t know of another program in the country where you get elite medical training, including time with oncology and uveitis, time for cataract surgery, and world-class research facilities. I’ve also been able to work with the global outreach team and had a chance to travel to Nepal, where I was able to teach, learn, and make some valuable connections.”

Schmitz-Valckenberg says, “We are happy to have Brian here at the Moran. He comes from a well-trained residency program and has quickly integrated into our team. The patients like him a lot, and it’s wonderful to see how he has progressed. I’m confident he will have a great future in the field.”

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