Undergraduate Researcher's Professional Case Study Published

Author: Gene Stowe


Emily Kolbus, a senior preprofessional studies major, was published in the September 2010 edition of the journal Retinal Physician. Kolbus, who did summer research on the oncology service at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, wrote a case study of her work with Dr. Carol Shields and Dr. Carlos Bionciotto. The article, “Conservative Treatment of Ciliary Body Melanoma with Extraocular Extension,” explains how plaque radiotherapy allowed a patient to avoid enucleation, the ordinary treatment for the condition.

The two months included attending lectures on ophthalmology in the hospital and shadowing Shields, a 1979 Notre Dame graduate who has become a leader in ocular oncology specializing in Retinoblastoma. Kolbus learned to use clinic equipment and, in the operating room, witnessed sophisticated enucleation and exoneration surgeries, as well as plaque radiotherapy, removal of conjunctival tumors and orbital tumors, and eyelid reconstruction.

She also worked on two research projects at the hospital involving large retrospective studies on ocular cancer. One surveyed iris lesions of nearly 4,000 patients, including data about the patient and the condition. The second focused on some 1,700 patients with iris nevi and compared two methods for tumor visualization.

Kolbus, who expects to go to medical school, said the experience was important both professionally and personally. “This internship allowed me to interact with the field from all angles: clinical, surgical, and the realm of medical research,” she said. “Dr. Carol Shields set a great example of what an individual can accomplish with the drive, determination, and heart that guides all Notre Dame students and alumni.”

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