I first met Jenny Enright in grad school at Washington University in St. Louis, where we were both in the MD/PhD program. I’d been working in the lab of Dr. Joe Corbo for a few years, studying the genes that dictate the identities of rod and cone photoreceptors. Jenny arrived with a background in zebrafish retinal models from her work as an undergrad at Notre Dame with Dr. David Hyde.
Soon enough, our mostly mouse-and-chicken lab had embraced the zebrafish as a powerful tool to study the genetics of light perception. Jenny, Joe and their collaborators performed a series of elegant experiments to solve a century-old mystery: the identity of the enzyme–Cyp27c1–that allows certain freshwater fish to “red shift” their spectral sensitivity and better match the lighting conditions of their environment. For her work on Cyp27c1, Jenny was awarded the 2015 James L. O’ Leary Prize for Research in Neuroscience.
Interestingly, neither Jenny nor I had any particular inclination towards Ophthalmology when we first applied to medical school. But our years in lab convinced us both to spend our clinical careers helping patients preserve their sense of sight. I was fortunate again to work with Jenny when she started her Ophthalmology Residency at Wash U in 2018, and for the past three years, I’ve watched her grow into an exceptional clinician, researcher, and leader. Our department elected her to receive the 2021 Dr. James Song and Linda Duan-Song Award for Clinical and Surgical Excellence. And now, as the Chief of Ophthalmic Trauma, she will spend this entire academic year teaching and supervising our residents as they see patients with all manner of ophthalmic emergencies, both medical and surgical.
I’ve joked with her that Chief year is like all the fellowships (at least, the non-surgical aspects) crammed into one crazy year…and I have no doubt that she is up to the challenge. The two of us have moved on from neighboring lab benches to neighboring offices in the Ophthalmology education suite, and I’m thrilled to be her colleague once again.Cynthia Montana, MD, PhD,
Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Director of the University Eye Service