Programs with Hawaiian Eye Foundation: Training

Training Scholarships

Vietnamese and Burmese Ophthalmologist Training Scholarships

Every year, the Hawaiian Eye Foundation sponsors one Vietnamese and one Burmese ophthalmologist to undergo training in the U.S. Winners attend the prestigious Lancaster program in Maine. They also shadow 3-5 of our SAB members in their home practices for more experience. They are also invited to attend a U.S. national conference: either the Hawaiian Eye Meeting, American Association of Ophthalmology conference.

We thank Dr. Lucy Young, Lancaster Course Director, and Dr. John Corboy for their efforts that make this scholarship program happen!  We also would like to thank Dr. Ralph Chu for his sponsorship as well this year!

This years winners:

  • Dr. Vo Thi Bao Chau, MD of VietNam
  • Dr. Doan Thi Hong Hanh, MD of VietNam
  • Dr. Pyae Pyae Thein, MD of Myanmar
  • Dr. William Hewak, MD, MPH of Canada

The following doctors provided their time and talent to these incredible students and deserve our sincere thanks for sharing their love of ophthalmology with this year’s scholars:

  • Dr. Peggy M. Liao, MD, Honolulu, HI
  • Dr. Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc, Philadelphia, PA
  • Dr. Quan Nyugen, MD, Byers Eye Institute, Stanford, Palo Alto,CA
  • Dr. Diana Vo, MD, Byers Eye Institute, Stanford, Palo Alto, CA
  • Dr. Gregg Kokame, Retina Consultants of Hawaii, Aiea, HI
  • Dr. Ralph Chu, Chu Vision Institute, Bloomington, MN
  • Dr. Nathalie Azar, MD, Univ. of Illinois College of Medicine, and Director of Pediatric Ophthalmology & Adult Strabismus Service at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary
  • Dr. Cem Mocan, MD, Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, Chicago, IL


“Our foundation sponsored our first Southeast Asian scholar, an ophthalmologist from Myanmar, three years ago. She was so enthusiastic about the value of the course, that we have continued sponsorships annually. This spring we provided four scholarships: two from VietNam, one from Myanmar,  and another from Canada. All scholars enthusiastically  report an intense, highly educational, deeply rewarding, and very pleasant immersion into all the divisions of ophthalmology. For our Southeast Asian scholars, this is usually their first exposure to American culture, which is a very gratifying side benefit.  They are uniformly pleased with the accommodations and meals, personal assistance from the staff, and the friendliness of their Northeastern neighbors. The course provides a terrific introduction for beginning ophthalmic residents, as well as a marvelous review for those already in practice. We definitely will continue sponsoring young ophthalmologists, particularly those from developing countries, and if we had more funding, we’d certainly send even more scholars.  We cannot recommend this course more highly!”
John M Corboy M.D., President, Hawaiian Eye Foundation,  Honolulu, Hawaii


From Dr. Hanh:

Dear Dr. Corboy, Dr. Nam Tran, Darrah, and all our dear friends from HEF,  This is some experiences I would like to share with you after Lancater course.  Time flies so fast and we all have finished Lancaster course. 7 weeks at Colby is un unforgettable time for me. I have obtained a huge amount of pratical knowledge with the most enthusiastic professors here. The labs are also a new experience of learning for me. As I am practicing retina in my country, I really enjoyed the fluorescein angiography lab of Dr. Lucy Young. This lab is really a wonderful chance for me to go through many interesting examples of chorio-retinal diseases. All the knowledge learnt from the course will be useful not only for my daily work at hospital but also for my teaching at the university. Besides studying, I also made friend with a lot of doctors coming from all over the world. We had a great time travelling together to many part of the East coast of the US. I would also like thank to HEF and Dr Nam Tran for offering me this amazing opportunity to participate in Lancaster course.

Now I am already in Stanford to start my observationship. I am excited to learn more and more here. I will keep you update with all my new experiences.
Thank you all for kindness.
All the best,

After she returned home, she sent us this email:

“I am busy with my clinic and my work at the university since coming back to VietNam. I still recall all the best memories that I had in the US.   My last observationship in the US was at Byers Eye Institute at Stanford. This was the first time I spent time in a uveitis clinic in the US and saw how Dr Quan Nguyen – one of the most respected uveitis specialist dealt with one of the most complicated problems of ophthalmology. I learned a lot of useful experiences in diagnosis and treatment of uveitis and the way my host conducted some clinical research concerning immunosuppressive drugs at his lab. I also spent time visiting the retina clinic of Dr Diana Do and observed how they ran the clinic. I really enjoyed the time in these busy exciting clinics. Some days the clinic finished late in the evening and I stayed until the last patient left feeling that I already took full advantage of my studying time in the US. While I was studying at Stanford, I also had a chance to visit Silicon Valley of the US and admired the accelerated innovation in technologies.

Now I am back to VietNam, back to my routine work and I am going to apply the new knowledge in my practice. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Corboy and HEF, Dr. Nam Tran, Dr. Quan Nguyen, Dr. Diana Do, Dr. Lucy Young and Dr. Kokame for all your support to make my trip to the US a wonderful learning experience.”

From Dr. Chau:
I am getting back to my daily work and I think that there will surely be many new interesting things I can apply for my duties both at the hospital and the university thanks to our trip. Thank you again for the time, the thoughtful arrangement as well as the support which HEF and our hosts provided.  Dr. Peggy, in my opinion, she is a very experienced pediatric ophthalmologist who has full of Aloha Spirit. She not only widened my professional knowledge but also showed me many interesting methods to work with pediatric patients.

I was so lucky to have the observership with Dr. Levin, a big name in Pediatric Ophthalmology. I was inspired by his knowledge and his passion for his work. He also taught us (his fellows, residents, medical students and me) many interesting tricks to attract the pediatric patients. Besides, thanks to him, I had the opportunity to access Ocular Genetics, which hasn’t been developed in VietNam. I’d like to say that Dr. Corboy is the greatest host who created my love for Hawaii. Truly don’t know how to express my gratefulness to him.
Although Dr. Young is a big name in Retina and the Lancaster Course Director, she herself picked us up at the airport when we arrived in Boston.  She also hosted us at her warm house. I can never forget the yummy flavor of the cake she made for breakfast. And with her, all of the lectures about retina become so easily understandable.
Mahalo nui.

Dr. Bill Hewak:

The Lancaster Course in Ophthalmology commenced with a 3-D introduction to pathology that at once inspired both marvel and horror. The seven week course also highlighted topics in anatomy, optics and clinical refraction, oculoplastics, cataract, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, cornea, uveitis, immunology, pediatrics, imaging and of course, retina. Learning about the principles and practice of ophthalmic genetics which first described and then identified the gene responsible for achromatopsia on remote Pingelap atoll in the south Pacific was an unexpected treat!

Exposure to the enthusiastic teaching and world-class research of the Lancaster faculty never became routine. I felt my mind burst with neural fireworks that illuminated the future challenges in ophthalmology, but also showed glimmers of novel solutions–such as the use of chalcogenide glass to make optoelectronic replacement parts for damaged, diseased or even defective eyes.

My participation in the Lancaster Course has been a game-changer and a confidence builder. Thank you!

Dr. Pyae Pyae:

First of all, I would like to express my sincerely thanks to HEF to give me the opportunity to attend the Lancaster Course in United States. My Name is Dr. Pyae Pyae Thein, an ophthalmologist from Union of Republic of Myanmar. I got a great opportunity to attend the Lancaster Course 2017 at the Colby College, Maine but also had a chance to the observership program to the Illinois Eye and Ear infirmary, University of Illinois, Chicago and Chu Vision Institute at Minneapolis at the United States. As a candidate, who was awarded by from Hawaii Eye Foundation, sponsored by Dr. Ralph Chu from Chu Vision Institute and Chu Vision Foundation. President of Hawaii Eye Foundation, Dr. Corboy and Darrah supported me to be successfully completed this course and it was truly excited and full of memory during the observership and Lancaster course.

Regarding the observership, Dr. Ralph Chu, founder of Chu Vision Institute and foundation, who is incredible surgeon, supported me in upgrading and understanding the cornea and refractive surgery.

Moreover, Dr. Nathalie Azar and Dr. Mocan also share their knowledge and deeply enhanced my clinical and theoretical experiences at Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Regarding the Lancaster Course Experiences, I could learn an extensive ophthalmology coverage, advanced technology, networking opportunity and engagement with professor of Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School. From my experiences, I could share my knowledge and clinical skills from Lancaster course to those from my home country. I also take care of the poor and underserved people in urban and rural area in Myanmar and provide sight to blind and impoverished and to train those who needs help.

Here are the post Lancaster course activities that I did in Myanmar. Especially, I do transfer what I learnt from Lancaster course to my fellow friends and colleagues by doing seminar and discussion. I also use my learning experience in my General Eye Hospital and even more at every weekend I used my Lancaster course experiences at my Charity Hospital “JIVITADANA SANGHA HOSPITAL” (Ref:

I do encourage to my colleagues and juniors to try to get a chance to join the HEF program in the future. I also receive many inquiries about that program of how to apply the program, what is the course structure, how to fly over there and details of the course lecture, etc. So that it clearly saying that HEF program gave them interest and got their attention to join in next coming years.

Finally, I would like to deeply and sincerely says thanks to Dr. Corboy who made me this chance, Darrah who take care of me along the whole trip, Dr. Ralph Chu and his family who hosted and surprisingly welcome. Dr. Azar and Dr. Mocan who spent their precious time with me.

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