Yannek Isaac Leiderman, MD, PhD

    Email Address: yannek@uic.edu
    College: Medicine Department: Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
    Title: Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
    Office: 312-413-8000
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    Yannek I. Leiderman, MD, PhD, is a surgeon, vitreoretinal specialist, and translational researcher at The Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the Director of Surgical Data Science at the Artificial Intelligence in Ophthalmology Center, and Co-Director of the Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Surgery.

    The Microsurgical Innovation and Novel Concepts Laborator is a cross-disciplinary laboratory group developing tools and technology for intraoperative surgical guidance, assessment, and training in ophthalmic microsurgery. Lab team members have deep expertise in bioengineering, surgical guidance, image processing, haptics, surgical navigation, surgical simulation, and artificial intelligence. Translational investigations are directed toward two principal areas: 1) Development of technology and techniques for the integration of surgical instrumentation, visualization, and imaging; 2) the design and implementation of high-fidelity ophthalmic surgical model systems to support training in advanced surgical techniques, adoption of novel surgical devices and technologies, and experimental techniques in microsurgery. A primary research direction of the group is to decode microsurgery, i.e., to begin to measure and understand the learning processes in microsurgery, and to deepen our understanding of the attainment of expert performance. Work in clinical applications and commercialization utilizes artificial intelligence methodologies coupled with surgical instrument tracking to create an enhanced microsurgical environment for ophthalmic surgery. We have received research funding from the National Eye Institute, foundational grants, and a variety of partners in industry.

    Dr. Leiderman’s primary clinical interests include the surgical treatment of complex retinal detachment, diabetic eye disease, proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR), macular surgery, and pathology requiring tactics of anterior and posterior segment surgery. Clinical research is primarily directed toward the effectiveness of ophthalmic surgical interventions in diseases of the retina and vitreous. He has served as the institutional principal investigator for multi-center clinical trials assessing ophthalmic surgical techniques and devices, including first-in-human cell therapy and gene therapy trials. He has a robust surgical referral vitreoretinal practice, serving as a resource for colleagues in the community to assist with complex surgical cases, particularly in the areas of complex diabetic surgery, reoperations in PVR and retinal detachment, challenging macular surgery, and intraocular lens (IOL) surgery including sutureless- and sutured IOL contemporary fixation techniques. He has been named to the Best Doctors in America® each year since 2011, has received the award for Outstanding Service to Patients several times from the University of Illinois Hospital, is recognized as a ‘Top Doctor’ by Castle Connolly and Chicago Magazine, and has been named by Ophthalmic Surgery News to the ‘OSN Retina 150’, an international compilation of the leading innovators in medical and surgical retina.

    Dr. Leiderman enjoys his role in training clinical fellows and is committed to surgical education. He serves as Co-Director of the American Society of Retina Specialists Committee on Surgical Metrics in Fellowship Training. He is a co-founder and since 2018 has served as Course Director of the Surgical Laboratory Course for Vitreoretinal Fellows in partnership with Alcon, a first-in-class experiential, hands-on laboratory course for vitreoretinal surgical training. He has been an invited lecturer and instructor at the Advanced Vitreoretinal Techniques and Technology (AVTT) Symposium, Harvard/Mass Eye and Ear Vitrectomy Course, and Duke Fellows’ Advanced Vitreous Surgery (fAVS) course. He has been Co-Director of the fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary since 2019.

    Dr. Leiderman is the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Microsurgical Education, Research, and Assessment (CAMERA), a state-of-the-art surgical concept lab. CAMERA creates high-fidelity ophthalmic surgical model systems to support training in advanced surgical techniques. Team members partner in development of goal-driven surgical training environments, offering a combination of synthetic surgical models, ex vivo eyes, and surgery in live animals to provide comprehensive training and preparation for adoption of new techniques and technologies in patients. The center has partnered primarily with colleagues in industry conducting and planning surgical clinical trials. Joint ventures include the development and implementation of comprehensive training protocols in vitrectomy-based subretinal injection of gene therapy vectors, and suprachoroidal drug delivery.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: According to project

    Qualifications of a Student:
    Minimum qualifications will be determined by the student's goals and interests. See above for potential project areas.
    1) Laboratory Investigation - Strong academic preparation including facility with implementation of deep learning models, computer vision, or data science. A major in computer science or biomedical engineering with CS background is preferred.
    2) Clinical Research - Students interested in clinical outcomes research predominantly related to vitreoretinal surgery. Students currently enrolled in a graduate medical education program or beyond, i.e., medical students, are strongly preferred. Background in biomedical statistics preferred.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    Expectations will be determined based upon the scope of the project and student's goals. We seek motivated, focused, goal-oriented students able to thrive in an environment of mentoring and self-directed learning.

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