Program Director's Message

While there are numerous ophthalmology training programs throughout the country that will train competent clinicians, we at the Harkness Eye Institute are committed to mentoring and training the future leaders of ophthalmology. Upon graduating from the program, our highly skilled residents often complete their ophthalmic subspecialty training at the most sought-after and prestigious clinical and research fellowships in the country. Many of our residents have gone on to faculty and leadership positions at top academic institutions.

It is truly an exciting time of change and progress for the Harkness Eye Institute and the Columbia Ophthalmology Residency Program. In July, we moved into a beautiful, brand new state of the art ambulatory care clinic. Although the basement had its charms and launched the careers of many prominent ophthalmologists, most would agree that it was the right time for a new space with direct exposure to sunlight.

Following the outstanding tenure of Bryan Winn, I became Residency Program Director in August, 2017.Dr. George “Jack” Cioffi has been a visionary chairman, and Dr. Jason Horowitz has been the bedrock of our residency clinic. With Dr. Lora Glass as the new Associate Residency Program Director and Dr. Winn now in a leadership position within the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Graduate Medical Education organization, our educational leadership team is both deeply committed and well-positioned to making an outstanding residency program even better. We work as a team, meeting several times a month, often with the help of resident representatives, to discuss and implement improvements in the program. We firmly believe that striking a balance between formalized instruction and resident autonomy is  critical to creating and maintaining a top ophthalmology training program.​

Under the leadership of Dr. Cioffi, a tremendous emphasis has been placed upon resident education, innovation, and well-being. With over 50 full-time and voluntary faculty at the Harkness Eye Institute, the faculty to resident ratio is over 4:1. Comprised of committed resident educators, many of our faculty have been recognized for their outstanding teaching abilities by the medical center. In addition, our world-renowned research faculty provide guidance and mentorship for both basic science and clinical resident research projects. In January of each year, the entire residency program takes a weekend retreat in upstate New York, where we take a step back, turn off our pagers, look at the program with fresh eyes, and come up with ways to improve upon every aspect of the program. In addition, we also dedicate this time for professional development and wellness, and in the past few years, we have brought in nationally renowned coaches to teach residents about topics ranging from career development to public speaking.

Our department has also enriched the residency program through major faculty additions over the past few years in almost all subspecialty areas, including ocular oncology, pediatric cornea, glaucoma, and retina. In December, the department will host its second annual Precision Ophthalmology conference, a meeting that highlights the work of our department as we march forward into the era of Precision Medicine. Not by coincidence, our meeting has been created at the same time that Columbia University has been awarded a major NIH precision medicine grant.

The “jewel” of the residency is its patient population. The majority of the patients evaluated and treated in the resident ophthalmology clinic live and work in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The population is primarily from the Dominican Republic and have had limited access to health care. In the past two years, we have also added a rotation at Harlem Hospital Center, a major New York City public hospital and level 1 trauma center. At both of these sites, our residents have the unique opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of their patients by offering superlative care to patients with severe ophthalmic disease. The overall clinical training experience is rounded out by rotations in the private clinics of attending physicians who handle complex patients referred from all around the world. 

With our dedicated leadership, unique patient population, and devoted faculty, the residency program at the Harkness Eye Institute will provide the compassionate and motivated resident with the best possible clinical and surgical education necessary to become a master clinician and true leader in the field of Ophthalmology.

I invite you learn more about our residency program and our residents in the “About the Program”,  “Applicant Eligibility, Selection and Application Process”, and “Current Residents” sections of this website. 


Royce W. S. Chen, MD

Program Director, Ophthalmology Residency


Pictured above: 1.) Rendering of the new NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center Ophthalmology Clinic. 2.) Dr. Cioffi welcomes attendees to the ribbon-cutting ceremony and launch of the new, resident  NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center Ophthalmology Clinic. 3.) Residents celebrated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new clinic. Pictured in the back row (left to right) are: Bryan Winn, MD; Albert Hazan, MD; Thalmon R. Campagnoli, MD; James Lin, MD; Dan Gong, MD; Sanjai Jalaj, MD; Joaquin DeRojas, MD; and Royce Chen, MD, Residency Program Director. In the front row (left to right) are: Nailyn Rasool, MD; Aakriti Garg, MD; Priya Mathews, MD, MPH; Leejee Suh, MD, Director of the Cornea Fellowship Program; Stacy Scofield, MD; and Aliaah Abdelhakim, MD.