George and Rosalie Hearst Fellow – Dr. Oluwatobi Idowu

Of course I researched the best oculoplastic surgeons for my advanced training,” says Dr. Oluwatobi Idowu (“Tobi” to his U.S. colleagues). He was rewarded with the prestigious, one-year George and Rosalie Hearst Fellowship.

“My West African nation of Nigeria is home to 170 million people and 10 oculoplastics specialists,” says Dr. Idowu. His public service in rural communities lacking sightsaving medical care moved him deeply.

“It is not easy to leave behind my beloved wife Adedayo and young son David, but I am determined to bring vital medical vision expertise to my country,” says the Hearst Fellow.

“Drs. Kersten and Vagefi truly have gifted hands!” – Dr. Oluwatobi Idowu

Up Close and Personal 

Robert Kersten, MD, and Reza Vagefi, MD, specialists in ophthalmic plastic, reconstructive, and orbital surgery mentor this committed clinician scientist. “At UCSF I am observing many advanced procedures for the first time,” says Dr. Idowu. “Drs. Kersten and Vagefi truly have gifted hands!”

The young Nigerian benefits from Dr. Kersten’s broad experience in developing countries and innovative surgical approaches. He credits Dr. Vagefi for outstanding mentorship and calls him “a methodical scholar.”

Restoring Sight, Preventing Disfigurement

“I am drawn to oculoplastic surgery because it is very direct,” Dr. Idowu explains. “We often adjust the eyelid or bone with the fingers, and there is seldom a microscope between surgeon and patient.”

Severe upper-face trauma can result in complete sight loss and broken orbits. Permanent disfigurement is common  if the bone is not repaired. Restorative surgery can also ameliorate damage from disease.

Improving Patient Outcomes

Dr. Idowu also contributes to UCSF vision research. His team studies how to improve tissue healing to achieve more natural-looking results. He collects data to help predict the permanence of a muscle repair that restores blocked sight by lifting droopy eyelids.

Big Country, Big Vision

Next year, Dr. Idowu hopes to join the university teaching hospital in Lagos, his nation’s largest city. He plans to share his UCSF learning with students, faculty, and a new generation of ophthalmologists. He also wants to research how changes to ocular trauma and orbital tumor management in Nigeria could allow more patients to keep their eyes and sight.


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