The Power List 2020 – Power List
President of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS); Professor of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine; Chief of the Cornea and External Disease Division and Director of the Refractive Surgery Service, Duke University Eye Center, NC, USA
Piece of advice for your younger self?
Take more chances and take the less-traveled road.
The most serendipitous moment of your career?
I was in the operating room a few years ago with a pediatric cornea transplant case on a monocular young boy who had suffered a ruptured globe from a corneal laceration. Needless to say, it was a delicate case that required all of my attention and focus. This was totally disrupted when the OR microscope started shaking, which I attributed to a circulating nurse who had bumped the microscope stand. I abruptly told the nurse to be careful as I was suturing the graft in place, and she flatly denied touching the scope. When it happened again a few minutes later, I was about to lose my temper until we were informed that an earthquake just passed through and had caused some minor tremors. What are the odds?!? We all laughed and fortunately the case went well with no complications!
The most unexpected turn your career took?
I encourage all my trainees and students to try and maintain a work-life balance and continue to pursue their hobbies, as you never know where this will take you. About 10 years ago, I was at the 2009 AAO meeting when one of my ophthalmology colleagues, Dr. Tony Aldave, coincidentally told me how he had just taken some DJ lessons. I immediately reflected on my DJing days in high school, lugging around my Numark mixer and milk crates full of 12” vinyl remixes, which came to a halt during my medical training. So we pitched the idea of combining our talents for our inaugural DJ party at the 2010 ASCRS meeting in Boston – it was a huge hit and has continued to grow over the past 10 years. The event takes place every Friday night at both the ASCRS and AAO meetings where we (A.K.A. DJ Special K and DJ AJA) spin at major clubs like the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas, House of Blues in San Diego, and the Sound Bar in Chicago, to a crowd of over 2000 attendees. I certainly didn’t anticipate becoming a doctor/DJ, but I do have to admit it has brought a lot of unexpected fun to my career!