February 2020 Issue of Insight

Trying Our Best

Last week I watched the final episode of “The Good Place,” one of the best and most heartfelt TV comedies I’ve seen in years.  Even if you weren’t watching the show, you probably know its basic premise; six flawed individuals (four humans, one demon, and one non-human assistant) struggle to morally improve themselves so they can earn their way into “the good place” while all of heaven and hell conspire against them.

The recurring theme that animates the characters’ actions is the idea that “we can try”.  We can try to learn from our failures.  We can try to help each other.  We can try to find the humanity in even the worst demon. We can try to be better versions of ourselves.

We can try.

EBAA has many different tools, resources and services to help you try to do your job better; the Technician Education Seminar is next week, the Eye Banker Leadership Program is next month, and Annual Meeting registration will open any day now.  Plus, we offer webinars, research grants, certification programs and more.  You can read about all of them and more in this issue of Insight.

Regardless of your position within your eye bank or your role as a physician, your work profoundly affects the lives of the cornea recipients and donor families you touch.  You are a custodian of the gift of sight, and you have an obligation to be the best custodian you can be.  EBAA has an obligation to give you the tools to make this possible.

As “The Good Place” taught us, the path to paradise does not require us to be perfect, it just requires us to try.  And that’s something that all of us can do.

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Legislative and Regulatory Updates

The Focal Point: Advocacy and Legislative Update

EBAA reported on the recent legislative and regulatory developments in the January 21, and February 4, 2020 issues of The Focal Pointthe association’s bi-weekly advocacy and legislative update.

For past issues, please visit the archive in the “Members Only” section of the website.

COVID-19 Updates

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.

“COVI” comes from coronavirus. The “D” stands for disease. The 19 represents 2019, the year the virus was first identified, in December. The name will apply for the entire spectrum of cases, from mild to severe, according to a WHO spokesperson.

EBAA released the 2019-nCoV Screening Recommendations for EBAA Member Eye Banks on February 3, 2020 and our recommendations remain unchanged.

For the latest information about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), visit these sites:

FDA and EBAA Liaison Meeting

On February 11, 2020, Kevin Corcoran, EBAA President & CEO and Jennifer DeMatteo, Director of Regulations and Standards met with twelve representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, including:

  • Peter Marks, MD, PhD, CBER Director
  • Celia Witten, MD, PhD, CBER Deputy Director
  • Diane Maloney, JD, Associate Director for Policy
  • Wilson Bryan, MD Director, Office of Tissue and Advanced Therapies
  • Scott Brubaker, Director, Division of Human Tissue (DHT)
  • Brychan Clark, MD, Medical Officer, DHT
  • Ekaterini Tsilou, MD, reviewer Division of Clinical Evaluation & Pharmacology / Toxicology
  • Iris Marklein, PhD, Associate Director for Policy, Division of Cell Gene Therapy (DCGT)
  • Guo-Chiuan Hung, PhD, Scientist, DCGT
  • Mary Malarkey, Director, Office of Compliance and Biologic Quality
  • Angelo Green, PhD, Assistant Director, Office of Ophthalmic Devices
  • Pauline Cottrell, Consumer Safety Officer, MATTB

We updated the FDA about various EBAA initiatives, including the Medical Standard change requiring double povidone-iodine exposure during recovery and the Keratoplasty Infections Surveillance Survey of Ophthalmologists we’re conducting in collaboration with CDC to determine the true incidence of post-keratoplasty infections and identify opportunities for improvement to our OARRS System.  We also discussed the results of the research we’re funding on antifungal supplementation of corneal storage solutions, the Corneal Preservation Time Study (CPTS), and the 2019-nCoV Screening Recommendations for EBAA Member Eye Banks.

We reiterated our previously submitted comments to the Review of CBER Guidelines regarding donor testing for Hepatitis B Core Antibody, asking for donor screening exclusionary risk factors to be reduced from 5 years to 12 months, and requesting a revision to the exclusionary travel criteria for CJD and vCJD.

Although FDA is in “listening mode” during a Liaison Meeting, we did ask for clarification regarding labeling, advertisement, and promotion letters and autologous serum eye drops (ASED) regulations. They said that they are “having extensive discussions about the regulatory pathway” for ASED but did not indicate when more specific guidance will be available.  We also used this opportunity to inform the FDA about the impact to eye banks from the Altaire Pharmaceuticals recall and the Cardinal Health recall of surgical gowns and packs, which they understand.

FDA appreciated the opportunity to hear our initiatives and concerns and seemed pleased with our COVID-19 screening recommendations. They shared two initiatives they are working on: a ten-year claims-based database query of fungal infections following corneal transplant and a risk benefit study of hepatitis C transmission among tissue recipients.

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Educational Programs and Events 

Gain Valuable Tools and Insight at the Upcoming Eye Banker Leadership Program

There is only one week left to register for the EBAA Eye Banker Leadership Program!

The course will take place March 5-7 at the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX, opening with a visit to the Alamo and a fun social event to follow, which will lead into a day and a half of educational sessions that will provide you with information and tools to accelerate your professional and personal growth.

The leadership program, led by facilitator, Bryan Harris, will include:

  • A personal leadership assessment for each attendee
  • Knowledgeable speakers on a variety of topics
  • Tools, tips, and ideas that can be applied to your work and personal life
  • Visit to the Alamo for an experiential learning opportunity
  • Two FrankinCovey leadership sessions
  • Thursday night social event hosted by the San Antonio Eye Bank
  • Dynamic program agenda with sessions that will strengthen your ability to lead yourself, your staff and your organization

This unique course has been designed for eye bank CEOs, Executive Directors, senior staff and management, and any eye bank professional looking to develop, strengthen, and hone their leadership skills.  Group discounts are being offered to eye banks that register three or more individuals for the program. The third registrant from an eye bank will receive a 33% discount and the fourth or more will receive a 50% discount. To access this discount pricing, please submit the paper registration form.

Take control of your professional development and register for the program today!

eyeLEARN: New Educational Opportunities Available 

EBAA’s education portal, eyeLEARN, features on-demand sessions, upcoming webinars, event recordings, free resources, and much more, making educational content more accessible than ever!

March will include two live webinar sessions, including Call Center Operations: From Recruitment to Retention, and a free informational session, EBAA Accreditation: Inspections, Common Findings, and Important Updates.

There are also a variety of on-demand sessions that are available to you and your staff:

Visit eyeLEARN today to explore all of the education and free resources.


Two Upcoming March Webinars: Register Today!

To learn more about EBAA Accreditation, and best practices involving call center operations, register for the two upcoming webinars below.

Call Center Operations: From Recruitment to Retention
March 11 at 1 PM Eastern

Donor coordinators and call center staff members play a key role in the donation process.  Ensuring that your organization’s call center staff is set up for success from the beginning is important and can be done by focusing on recruiting, training, and retaining individuals who are well suited for the job.  During this session, speakers from three different eye banks will discuss how their organizations hire, train, evaluate and keep high-performing staff members in their call centers.  The speakers will provide specific examples of their recruitment process, as well as demonstrate the types of incentives and care that they provide their call center staff. Register today to learn more about call center operations!

EBAA Accreditation: Inspections, Common Findings, and Important Updates
March 18 at 1 PM Eastern

Join us for this complimentary session about EBAA Eye Bank Accreditation. Accreditation Board Co-Chair, Chris Stoeger, and Co-Vice Chair, Kyle Mavin, will provide an overview of the EBAA Eye Bank Accreditation process, sharing information about preparing for an inspection, what to expect during an inspection, common findings and additional information about EBAA Accreditation. We hope you will join us for this free informational session about the importance of EBAA Eye Bank Accreditation, and how to set your eye bank up for success during inspections!

Certification Updates

Become a Certified Eye Bank Technician this Spring!

EBAA is accepting applications for the 2020 Spring Certified Eye Bank Technician (CEBT) Exam.  Testing will take place April 11-25 at a testing center near you!

To sit for the exam, the candidate must have 6 months of eye bank experience with a bachelor’s degree, or 12 months of experience and a high school degree within the past two years. The candidate also needs to complete the Practical Performance Competency Verification, and submit a complete application with payment to the EBAA office.  Applications are due March 2.

If you are interested in learning more about the exam, or are planning on taking the exam, be sure to check out the latest eyeLEARN webinar recording. On Monday, during the free session, “The CEBT Exam: Updates, Information, and Resources,” Jameson Clover, CEBT, and Sara Botsay, CEBT Chair and Vice-Chairof the Exam Committee discussed the exam, available resources, and preparation tips.

The application and resources to prepare for the CEBT exam, including an outline, study guide, and practice exam can be found on the EBAA website. Take the next step in  your eye banking career, and apply for the exam today!

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Scholarship, Fellowship, and Grant Information


Fund Your Research with the Pilot Research Grant

Fund your next pilot or short term protocol study with the 2020 EBAA Pilot Research Grant! The application period is currently open, and proposals are due March 23, 2020.

Each year, EBAA awards grants to various individuals in the research, ophthalmic, and eye banking communities to provide support for projects specifically concerned with issues directly related to eye banking and/or corneal transplantation. In 2020, EBAA will award multiple grants up to $7,500 each.

Researchers looking to fund pilot projects, well-defined short-term protocols, or initial studies directed toward new research initiatives are encouraged to apply. Secure funding for your research; apply today!

EyeFind Research Grant

In collaboration with ARVO, this grant provides supplemental funding in grants of up to $5,000 per project to researchers to procure human eye tissue samples from eye banks for use in a well-conceived research project. The applicant must demonstrate financial need related to procuring and using human eye tissue to continue their research. The deadline for applications is April 1, 2020. For more information, or to apply, click here.

Coming Soon: High Impact Research Grant  

To advance innovation and knowledge in sight restoration, eye banking and cornea transplantation, EBAA provides up to $100,000 in grants each year to fund research in an area of interest to the profession. In 2020, the EBAA High Impact Research Grant funds one proposal focused on “Cell Based Therapies for Corneal Diseases” up to $50,000. This funding opportunity is in addition to the smaller research grants that are awarded each year.

Applications for this grant will be posted in the Spring each year and the recipient will be announced during the Cornea and Eye Banking Forum.

The topic for 2020 is: Cell Based Therapies for Corneal Diseases

Award Opportunities

EBAA is now accepting nominations for the Gift of Sight Award and the Crystal Cornea Award. Both awards honor individuals who have worked to promote the gift of sight and will be presented during the Annual Dinner on June 19 at the 2020 Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. The nomination deadline for both awards is March 16.

Gift of Sight Award
The Gift of Sight Award recipient is a professional who works closely with the eye banking community and whose efforts have demonstrated significant support for corneal donation. Eligible nominees include but are not limited to: nurses, medical examiners, funeral service professionals, social workers, clergy, hospital administrative personnel and other professionals who have worked to encourage donation and promote the gift of sight. For more information, click here.

Crystal Cornea Award
The Crystal Cornea Award is presented to individuals or organizations whose work promotes the gift of sight and brings public awareness to corneal donation. This honor is typically awarded to media organizations, lawmakers, or individuals for outstanding contributions. For more information, click here.


Patricia Aiken O’Neill Scholarship

One of your staff members could attend the 2020 EBAA Annual Meeting for FREE!

EBAA is now accepting nominations for the Patricia Aiken-O’Neill Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship that will provide provides funds for an eye bank staff member to attend the 2020 EBAA Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas.

The scholarship includes complimentary travel, meeting registration, and lodging (up to $2,000). The deadline for nominations is March 16. Submit a nomination today to send an outstanding staff member to the Annual Meeting!

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Eye Bank News:

Jeff Penta Retires after 41 Years

On January 24, Jeff Penta retires as Executive Director of San Diego Eye Bank.  Jeff spent his entire professional life in eye banking and touched the lives of countless people in the profession.  “Jeff was one of the first eye bankers to contact me after I’d been hired”, said Kevin Corcoran. “He was a tremendous resource to me and to the association.”

We wish Jeff well in his future endeavors; Dhore Anunciado will serve as SDEB’s acting Executive Director until a permanent hire is made.

Nevada Donor Network Change in Operational Governance

Nevada Donor Network is now managed by Florida Lions Eye Bank with Concetta Triglia and William Buras performing the functions of their supervisory CEBTs.

EBAA Annual Meeting: Registration Coming Soon!

Join us in Dallas this June for the EBAA 2020 Annual Meeting! Preparations are coming together to produce a dynamic event that will be packed with quality educational sessions, fun networking events, and interactive sessions that will spark discussion and lead to deeper understanding. Look forward to unique donor and recipient stories, opportunities for discussion on important issues in eye banking, and much more.  The meeting will take place June 17-20, at the Fairmont Dallas in Dallas, Texas.

Be sure to save these meeting events on your calendar!

  • Wednesday Social Event: An Evening in the Oronoco Rain Forest (Wednesday, June 17- additional fees apply)
    • Join us at the Dallas World Aquarium for dinner, drinks, fire dancing, steel drums, sloths, penguins, and more!
  • Thursday Social Event: EBAA LIVE (Thursday, June 18)
    • The Exhibit Hall is being transformed into a lively party space and the evening will include food, drinks, activities, and the opportunity to meet with exhibitors in a fun and relaxed environment!
  • Annual Dinner and Awards Program (Friday, June 19)
    • Celebrate the 2020 Heise Award recipient, Donna Drury, and the recipients of the Crystal Cornea and Gift of Sight Awards. Join us after for a fun dessert party!

Watch your email next week for information on how to register for the eye banking meeting of the year!

Transplant Games of America, The Meadowlands, NJ, July 17-22, 2020


Transplant Games is a festival-style event for individuals who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries. Competition events are open to living donors, organ transplant recipients, bone marrow, and corneal and tissue transplant recipients. More than an athletic event, the Donate Life Transplant Games highlight the critical importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation, while celebrating the lives of organ donors and recipients.

If you know a corneal transplant recipient who may be interested in participating, please spread the word! For registration information, click here.

EBAA Women in STEM Week (Feb 10 – 14)

If you follow us on social media, this week you may have noticed our ongoing celebration of some of the many fantastic women involved with EBAA. Tuesday was “International Day of Women and Girls in Science,” but because we have so many accomplished women throughout the organization, we decided to recognize them all week. For profiles of just a few EBAA’s women and their journeys in STEM, check out the EBAA Women in STEM page, and feel free to share as you see fit. Let’s inspire the next generation of women to be involved with science and eye banking!

Activity in the EBAA Career Center

A reminder that the EBAA online Career Center is a great place to post open positions at your eye bank, and to recruit dedicated talent. Also, browse the postings to see where you can take the next step in your eye banking career!

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Association Listserv Chatter: What You’ve Missed!

Here are some of the topics that you may have missed on the listservs this past month:

Technician Listserv:

  • Sterile jars with 95% ethanol for scleral preservation
  • Leptomeningeal metastases
  • Biologos ethanol
  • Optisol Storage Solution Color
  • ARO positive donors

Quality Assurance Listserv:

  • eBPDR scheduled downtime

If you are interested in joining the technician, quality assurance, donor development, finance, or executive director listserv, please email Genevieve Casaceli. All EBAA and Paton Society Members are able to join the listservs. Please note the Executive Director listserv is invite only and specifically for Executive Directors.

EBAA Happenings


EBAA Visits Germany for EEBA Annual Meeting and the Munich Eye Bank!

In January, EBAA President Kevin Corcoran, and Director of Education Stacey Gardner, traveled to Hannover, Germany, to attend the EEBA Annual Meeting. They were excited to see several EBAA members at the meeting as well as members of the Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations, a former Mary Jane O’Neil Fellow, and a recipient of a previous EBAA Research Grant. It was also a treat to see Patricia Dahl, from The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration, give a presentation on fundraising during the workshops on the first day.

Following a fun and informative meeting, Kevin and Stacey headed south to Munich to visit EBAA member bank, Hornhautbank Muenchen gGmbH. During the visit at the eye bank, Stacey received the “eye banker for the day” experience, and was even trained by Andrea Gottwald to count cells using the specular microscope.  Thank you to Andrea Gareiss-Lok, Claus-Dieter Lok and Andrea Gottwald, for their wonderful hospitality and for educating EBAA staff about their organization and the operations at their eye bank.

In Case you missed it! Annual Meeting 2021 and 2022 Dates and Cities Announced

Mark your calendars! Cities and dates have been selected for the 2021 & 2022 Annual Meetings:

  • June 9 – June 12, 2021: Kansas City, MO
  • June 1 – June 4, 2022: Baltimore, MD

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Upcoming Events / Deadlines / Save the Date