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Cover Focus | June '13

My Path in Medicine

I want to create new products to improve patient care.

I am an academic ophthalmologist at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami. Several factors along my path came together to influence my decision to pursue this career. When I was in medical school at Yale, I really enjoyed operating; specifically, I liked working with fine tissue during surgery. Those two things helped me select ophthalmology as a subspecialty. I also had the opportunity to take time off from Yale and join a research team led by Mark Humayun, MD, PhD, and Eugene de Juan, MD, at the University of Southern California. Mark and Gene had a startup company developing a retinal prosthesis, which now has FDA approval for patients who are blind due to retinitis pigmentosa. While I worked very hard, I enjoyed every second of what I did, and, at the time, I did not know how powerful this experience would end up being for the development of my career.


I also had an interest in research and helping improve patients’ outcomes through research. I spent time in a laboratory and maintained this interest during my training years. Upon completion of my fellowship, I decided to continue on this path. I applied for and received a National Institutes of Health grant and started a laboratory focused on new drug delivery mechanisms for the anterior and posterior segment of the eye.


My excitement for ophthalmology and for contributing to the field by conducting research focused on improving patients’ outcomes has been an important part of my career path. A few years ago, I wanted to further my passion and build out the ability to take research out of the clinic and closer to the bedside. Those beginnings are what now is known as Cirle. Cirle is a medical technology incubator that looks at early product development in ophthalmology. Our mission statement is to focus on new-to-the-world products that meet clinical needs and improve outcomes for patients. Our team consisting of mechanical engineers, design engineers, and project managers, as well as clinicians and scientists, approaches product development with one overarching caveat: we approach everything from the perspective of patients’ needs. Our domain experience and specialization in ophthalmology combine to create a team that has depth of experience but remains agile in performance, as we are a still a small company.

Cirle Website

DOS AND DON'TS in Career Planning


• Clearly define your priorities. Know what the keys are to your feeling accomplished, passionate, and fulfilled.

• Follow your heart and passions.

• Create a clearly defined plan for your career- but DON'T be afraid to change it along the way.

• Anticipate putting a great deal of time and efford into making career changes.

• Find good mentors and positive influences.


• Make your own negative decisions.

• Don't rush into a field simply because you are impatient or disappointed with what you are doing.

• Don't just hope for change, make it happen.


When deciding what to do with your career, spend time doing some soul searching, and take the path that allows you to spend most of your time doing the things that you enjoy the most. Ultimately, you may need to create your own path, but you will find great support within our field. Follow your passion, don’t make your own negative decisions, don’t be afraid to dream a little bit, and be open to new experiences and people.

Richard M. Awdeh, MD

Richard M. Awdeh, MD, is the Director of Technology Transfer and Innovation and an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida. He is the Founder of Cirle (www.cirle.com). Dr. Awdeh may be reached
at (305-482-5135); richard.awdeh@gmail.com.