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January 18, 2002


Emory Eye Center Pathologist Receives Teaching Grant for Internet Project

Hans E. Grossniklaus, MD, director of the L.F. Montgomery Eye Pathology Laboratory at the Emory Eye Center (EEC), has received Emory University's Teaching Fund (UTF) grant. Co-investigator of the grant and co-creator of the initiative is Daurice Grossniklaus, his wife. Preliminary findings from this initiative were presented at the American Association of Ophthalmic Pathologists in New Orleans in November 2001. This new award, together with two other grants he currently holds, provides Dr. Grossniklaus a total of $1,429,408 in grant money.

The initiative, titled "Internet Based Eye Pathology Teaching Initiative," blends technology and education. The system is a combination of Internet-based learning and hands-on experience by students via a rotation within the EEC pathology laboratory. The grant runs from November 2001 through October 2002.

Nearly 30 requests for a University Teaching Award were considered with some 18 having been awarded. A university-wide grant, the UTF places medical and university academicians side-by-side in consideration for the award. Dr. Grossniklaus now has the distinction of concurrently holding three grants. He holds two National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants: an RO1 award for basic science research and a U10 award for clinical trials; and the recent University Teaching Fund. Additionally, Dr. Grossniklaus is the director of the structural/biology module of the departmental core grant.

"We are extremely pleased that the University has recognized Hans Grossniklaus' stellar talents and his creative initiative that will serve as the model for countless medical students and practitioners," says Thomas M. Aaberg, Sr., director of the Emory Eye Center and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. "This Internet-based tool will take the eye pathology teaching program at Emory to the next level of excellence."

The UTF grant will incorporate internet-based instructional designs in technology in order to teach eye pathology to Emory residents, as well as residents in other ophthalmology programs that don't have access to a local eye pathologist, says Grossniklaus. This inaugural year, residents from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and at the Medical College of Georgia will benefit from Emory's grant.

The tutorial Hans and Daurice Grossmiklaus have created will provide a sequential, hierarchical scheme for developing a framework to learn eye pathology. Ophthalmic pathology teaching, which encompasses basic education about the biology of eye diseases, is an integral part of medical student and resident education. Developing the infrastructure this year, Dr. Grossniklaus will then be able to continue the program at nominal costs to future participating programs.

The new technology will undoubtedly impact Emory undergraduate (Biology of the Eye course taught by EEC's faculty), and medical student teaching as well as and continuing medical education for practicing ophthalmologists. The model he develops also will serve as a template for other subspecialties within the Emory Eye Center.

"We are currently utilizing digital technology and molecular biology and applying these technologies to pathology teaching and basic science research in order to advance the field," says Dr. Grossniklaus. An unfortunate occurrence happening nationwide is that eye pathology laboratories are suffering and sometimes closing due to factors such as managed care and lack of reimbursement.

Currently there are approximately six full-time ophthalmic pathology labs capable of collecting a significant number of cases for teaching and research. Emory's lab is a referral ophthalmic pathology laboratory for the Southeastern United States.

"The field is at a crossroads," he says, "and this new initiative should help take eye pathology to a higher level."

These issues, including an interview with Dr. Grossniklaus, will be covered in an upcoming issue of EyeNet, published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He credits the success of eye pathology of the Emory Eye Center directly to the support and encouragement of EEC Director Aaberg. Dr. Grossniklaus earned his BA from Miami University and the MD from Ohio State University. He completed residencies in ophthalmology and anatomic pathology at Case Western Reserve University and fellowships in ophthalmic pathology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. He is board certified in both ophthalmology and anatomic pathology.

Dr. Grossniklaus has been the director of the L.F. Montgomery Ophthalmic Pathology Laboratory since 1989. He evaluates all cases submitted to the Emory Eye Center's pathology laboratory by ophthalmologists from across the Southeast. He and his staff evaluate more than 2,000 pathology cases each year.

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