Foundation News

Young Eye Surgeon International Service Grantee Spotlight: Erin Sieck, MD    

Erin Sieck, MD is a proud 2020 ASCRS Foundation Young Eye Surgeon International Service Grant recipient. This grant was created for aspiring humanitarian ophthalmologists who want to participate and learn within our global healthcare system. While Dr. Sieck's initial plan for her international service experience may have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, she continues to pursue travel and education through the Foundation grant with plans to fly to Freetown, Sierra Leone this coming year. In this conversation, Dr. Sieck speaks more about her upcoming international humanitarian project and the opportunities provided to her by the ASCRS Foundation:

ASCRS Foundation: How did you initially become interested in ophthalmology?

Dr. Sieck: “I initially became interested in ophthalmology because my father is also an ophthalmologist. I was able to see the impact he made in our small-town community and knew I wanted to do the same thing. In high school, I was able to travel with him to Honduras to train phaco surgeons on a donated Infiniti machine (Alcon.) I saw firsthand the life-changing surgical procedures ophthalmologists do and how one person from Quincy, Illinois could train six different surgeons in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to leave a lasting impact.”

ASCRS Foundation:  How did you hear about the ASCRS Foundation and the Young Eye Surgeon International Service Grant program?

Dr. Sieck: “I was fortunate to train in a residency program that realizes the importance of global ophthalmology. One of my first surgical mentors was Cristos Ifantides, MD. He identified that I loved to teach and that I wanted to share my skill set. Through my department, I was able to travel to Hospital Elias Santana in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I worked with Dr. Ifantides, Cara Capitena Young, MD and Mina Pantcheva, MD on a grant from New World Medical (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) training their glaucoma team on goniotomy techniques with the Kahook Dual Blade. I also learned from the residents about manual small incision cataract surgery. This transfer of knowledge confirmed I wanted to spend time training and learning from surgeons abroad.”

ASCRS Foundation:  Can you tell us more about the service project that you are working on as a result of the grant?

Dr. Sieck: “My project is to work with Jalika Mustapha, MD in Freetown, Sierra Leone. She is an extremely talented surgeon who handles complex glaucoma. My goal is to get her a sustainable supply of mitomycin C she can compound on the day of surgery. In addition, I hope to teach her some minimally invasive glaucoma procedures and learn how she tackles tough cataracts.”


ASCRS Foundation: What advice would you give to other young ophthalmologists looking to pursue the Young Eye Surgeon International Service Grant opportunity?


Dr. Sieck: “The advice and mentorship I've received from the grant committee are priceless. I feel fortunate we extended our trip planning an extra three years due to the pandemic - it gave us more time to collaborate with the giants of global ophthalmology. I am inspired by their continued drive to improve international access to safe ophthalmic care. No project is too small to have an impact!"


The Young Eye Surgeons International Service Grant was created to inspire young eye surgeons to become involved with global eye care on a long-term basis. The grant affords the opportunity to participate in health care systems, including teaching institutions and community programs, in developing countries. To learn more about the Young Eye Surgeon International Service Grant, please complete the interest form located below!

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