Courses for Medical Students 

Ophthalmology Clerkship (OPH200)

Prithvi S. Sankar, MD and staff

Penn Medical students are required to participate in a one-week course in ophthalmology, which provides an introduction to the diagnosis and management of common ophthalmological problems. The principal goals of this one-week clerkship are to acquaint students with:

  1. The major causes of severe vision loss in the U.S. and in the developing world
  2. Major symptom complexes that present commonly to ophthalmologists and to non-ophthalmic physicians
  3. Some of the major unsolved problems in ophthalmology and vision science
  4. A substantial number of full-time faculty members in order to encourage further interaction

The goals described above are accomplished through a series of didactic lectures, reading assignments, and observation in the eye clinics at the Scheie Eye Institute, the VA Hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Several interactive sessions with students discussing case presentations with a faculty preceptor are also scheduled.

This course is available only to Penn Medical students.

Clinical Ophthalmology (OPH300)

Prithvi S. Sankar, MD and staff

This one-month elective course focuses on the acquisition and development of technical skills. The course is flexible and designed to accommodate the student's interest. Students participate fully in the activities of the department. Students will examine patients at Scheie Eye Institute, Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine (PCAM), the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Veteran's Affairs Medical Center. They will attend resident conferences and student-oriented didactic sessions. Special attention will be paid to the acquisition of skills such as measuring visual function and using the ophthalmoscope and slit lamp. Participation in the operation room is a part of this elective.

After initial orientation, students may choose to focus in areas of their special interest. The course is flexible to accommodate the student’s interest. Exposure to all subspecialties of ophthalmology is available.

Pediatric Ophthalmology (OPH301)

Monte Mills, MD and staff

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

This one-month course at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is designed for medical students interested in an in-depth experience in pediatric ophthalmology, or other related pediatric disciplines. The course includes clinical diagnoses and management of pediatric ophthalmic disorders and observation of pediatric ophthalmic surgery. Students will rotate with pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatric oculoplastic surgeons in the clinics, operating rooms, and inpatient consultations.

Adult Oculoplastics and Orbital Surgery (OPH303)

Adult oculoplastics is a discipline that involves evaluation and management of disorders affecting the eye, orbit and adnexa. Students will actively participate in outpatient practices, inpatient consultations, and surgeries of three oculoplastic specialists:  Sonul Mehta, MD, Cesar Briceno, MD, and Karen Revere, MD.

Pediatric and Adult Oculoplastic and Orbital Surgery (OPH305)

For medical students interested in an in-depth experience in oculoplastic and orbital surgery, a four week full-time elective is available at CHOP/Scheie/VAMC. This rotation includes observing and directly participating in the management of orbital tumors, lacrimal disorders and eyelid malposition in a practice base at CHOP that treats predominantly children, but some adults as well. Students will spend time with William Katowitz, MD and James Katowitz, MD, their surgical fellows, and the residents on the oculoplastic service at CHOP/Scheie/VAMC. This elective is designed for students interested in ophthalmology, who have a special interest in oculoplastic and orbital surgery.


Clinical Neuro-Ophthalmology (ITD340)

Neuro-ophthalmology bridges the disciplines of ophthalmology and neurology and involves the diagnosis and therapy of disorders of the afferent visual system (optic nerves, chiasm, tracts, and occipital lobes) and efferent visual system (pupils, eye movements). Students will actively participate in the busy outpatient and inpatient (consultative) practices of Drs. Grant Liu, MD, Kenneth Shindler, MD, PhD, Madhura Tamhankar, MD, Ahmara Ross, MD, PhD, and Ali Hamedani, MD, full-time faculty members comprising the Division of Neuro-ophthalmology serving HUP, Scheie Eye Institute, VAMC, and CHOP. Attendance at the neuro-ophthalmology conferences and Dr. Liu's monthly professor's rounds will be expected. The student will be asked to present a clinical case at the Scheie residents' neuro-ophthalmology conference on the second Friday of the month.

The student schedule and more about the division are available at

Goals for the Neuro-Ophthalmology elective

  1. Be able to perform a basic neuro-ophthalmic history and examination.
  2. Understand the differential diagnosis of important neuro-ophthalmic disorders, such as vision loss and double vision.
  3. Become familiar with the use of basic neuro-ophthalmic equipment (direct ophthalmoscope).

The Jeffrey W. Berger Medical Student Research in Ophthalmology Award

About the Award

Jeffrey W. Berger, MD, PhD (1963-2001) was an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology (Retina Service) and Director of the Computer Vision Laboratory at Penn's Scheie Eye Institute. Dr. Berger was internationally recognized for his work on computer-based retinal imaging and was the first editor of a major textbook on age-related macular degeneration. He was an outstanding teacher and advocate for medical students. Because of his strong commitment to mentoring students in medical research, the Jeffrey W. Berger Research Scholarship Fund is proud to announce the offering of the Jeffrey W. Berger Medical Student Research Award. The award will help to fund the student's research at Penn.

Application Process

  • Candidates must be Penn medical students who will do at least three months of ophthalmology research at Penn.
  • Finalists will be chosen based on written materials and will be invited for an interview.
  • Answer the following questions in 100 words or less for each:
    1. How did you become interested in ophthalmology?
    2. Why do you wish to do ophthalmology research?
    3. What research experience (if any) have you had in the past?
    4. Would you like to do clinical (patient oriented, chart review, epidemiology) or basic (bench work related to the mechanisms or treatment of ocular disease) research?
    5. Do you have a specific research interest within the field of ophthalmology at this point?
    6. At this point, do you envision a career that is mainly research, clinical or a mix of the two?
  • If available, attach your CV, undergraduate and Penn Medical School transcripts, and part I board score.
  • Send your completed application to:

Joshua L. Dunaief, MD, PhD
Adele Niessen Professor of Ophthalmology
305 Stellar Chance Labs
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Additional clinical and research electives may be available. For more information about courses available to visiting students, see

Interested in a Career in Ophthalmology?

For information on more opportunities in Ophthalmology, visit Penn Medicine's Career Counseling website.

Program Leadership

Prithvi S. Sankar, MD
Director, Medical Student Education

John A. Dempsey
Director, Office of Educational Programs 
Phone: 215-662-8069
Fax: 215-243-4696

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