Dr. Jennifer Sun receives Physician-Scientist Award from Research to Prevent Blindness

July 22, 2016
JenSunBoston — Massachusetts Eye and Ear congratulates Jennifer K. Sun, M.D., MPH, Investigator in the Section on Vascular Biology at Joslin Diabetes Center, an Ophthalmologist in Beetham Eye Institute (BEI) at Joslin Diabetes Center and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, on her achievements that led to a Physician-Scientist Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). Up to $300,000 will be provided over three years. This award allows researchers at medical institutions in the United States to devote more time to clinical eye research activities, providing greater opportunities for specialized study with direct application to the patient care. Dr. Sun is one of four RPB Physician-Scientists at four institutions who have received the award since it was re-established in 2015.

“Dr. Sun is a talented physician scientist and a leader in the fight against diabetic eye disease, and her work has and will continue to improve the lives of those with diabetes,” said Joan W. Miller, M.D., FARVO, the Henry Willard Williams Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Chief of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. “We congratulate her on this well-deserved award!”

Dr. Sun is receiving this award for her work with noninvasive optical coherence tomography angiography to establish changes in the retinal capillary network as biomarkers that predict retinal neural damage leading to vision loss or the worsening of diabetic retinopathy over time.

As an Investigator in the Section on Vascular Biology, Dr. Sun’s research into diabetic eye disease has helped to improve the sight and lives of millions of people with diabetes.  She has been instrumental in helping to design and implement multiple studies through the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network, which have changed the standard of care for patients at risk for vision loss from diabetic eye complications.

Dr. Sun also collaborates with George King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in the 50-Year Medalist study, where she studies diabetic eye disease and potential protective factors that have kept participants’ eyes healthy over 50+ years of type 1 diabetes. Another research focus involves the use of advanced retinal imaging techniques to more accurately predict risk of vision loss and worsening of vascular disease in the diabetic eye.

In addition to her research, Dr. Sun also performs clinical duties as an ophthalmologist in the BEI. She sees patients, performs retinal surgeries and administers anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) treatment, a therapy that has revolutionized the treatment of diabetic macular edema.

Dr. Sun completed her ophthalmology residency at HMS, and a clinical fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear. She was one of the first recipients of the Harvard-Vision Clinical Scientist Development Program (K12) award, an NIH-funded program that offers a customized and structured learning, research, and development experience to a select group of qualified clinically-trained candidates who have recently completed (or are about to complete) their training and who desire to become independent leading clinical scientists in their respective fields.

RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions for research into the causes, treatments and prevention of blinding eye disease.

Media Contact:
Suzanne Day
Media Relations, Mass. Eye and Ear

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck.  Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships.  Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2015–2016 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in the Northeast for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit MassEyeAndEar.org.

About Joslin Diabetes Center
Joslin Diabetes Center is world-renowned for its deep expertise in diabetes treatment and research. Joslin is dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes and ensuring that people with diabetes live long, healthy lives. We develop and disseminate innovative patient therapies and scientific discoveries throughout the world. Joslin is an independent, non-profit institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and one of only 11 NIH-designated Diabetes Research Centers in the U.S. www.joslin.org

About Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology (eye.hms.harvard.edu) is one of the leading and largest academic departments of ophthalmology in the nation. More than 350 full-time faculty and trainees work at nine HMS affiliate institutions, including Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Joslin Diabetes Center/Beetham Eye Institute, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, VA Maine Healthcare System, and Cambridge Health Alliance. Formally established in 1871, the department has been built upon a strong and rich foundation in medical education, research, and clinical care. Through the years, faculty and alumni have profoundly influenced ophthalmic science, medicine, and literature—helping to transform the field of ophthalmology from a branch of surgery into an independent medical specialty at the forefront of science.