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February 4, 2002

UTF grant funds eye center cyber-teaching initiative

By Joy Bell


Hans Grossniklaus, director of the L.F. Montgomery Eye Pathology Laboratory at the Emory Eye Center (EEC), has received a University Teaching Fund (UTF) grant for his “Internet-Based Eye Pathology” teaching initiative, a combination of Internet-based learning and hands-on experience by students via a rotation within the EEC pathology laboratory.

Co-investigator of the grant and co-creator of the initiative is Grossniklaus’ wife, Daurice, and the two presented preliminary findings at the American Association of Ophthalmic Pathologists in New Orleans in November.

The UTF grant will help teach eye pathology to Emory residents, as well as residents in other ophthalmology programs that don’t have access to a local eye pathologist, Grossniklaus said. During this inaugural year of the initiative, 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 Grossniklaus have created will provide a sequential, hierarchical scheme for developing a framework to learn eye pathology, an integral part of medical student and resident education. After developing the infrastructure this year, Hans Grossniklaus will then be able to continue the program at nominal costs to future participating programs. The model he develops will serve as a template for other subspecialties within the Eye Center.

“We are currently utilizing digital technology and molecular biology and applying these technologies to pathology teaching and basic science research,” Grossniklaus said.

Since 1989, Grossniklaus has been director of the Eye Center’s pathology laboratory, which is a referral laboratory for the entire Southeast. He and his staff evaluate all pathology cases submitted to the Eye Center by ophthalmologists across the region, handling more than 2,000 such cases each year.

Unfortunately, Grossniklaus said, eye pathology laboratories nationwide are struggling—and even closing—due to the financial hardships imposed by managed care. Currently there are approximately six full-time ophthalmic pathology labs capable of collecting a significant number of cases for teaching and research.

“The field is at a crossroads,” Grossniklaus said, “and this new initiative should help take eye pathology to a higher level.”

Grossniklaus’ UTF grant runs from November 2001 through October 2002. He now has the distinction of concurrently holding three grants: two National Institutes of Health grants (an RO1 award for basic science research and a U10 award for clinical trials) and the UTF award. Additionally, 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,” said Thomas Aaberg, director of the Eye Center and chair of ophthalmology. “This Internet-based tool will take the eye pathology teaching program at Emory to the next level of excellence.”