Clifford Kim Awarded RPB Medical Student Eye Research Fellowship

January 22, 2016
Contact: Suzanne Day, Office of Communications

Kim MSFBOSTON — The Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School has been granted a $30,000 Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) Medical Student Research Fellowship in support of Clifford Kim (pictured right). This award will allow Kim to spend one year studying the role and mechanism of how microglia (the tissue macrophages of the central nervous system) influence retinopathies. He will work under the mentorship of Kip Connor, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

A third year medical student at Harvard Medical School, Kim has been studying retinal pathologies in Dr. Connor’s laboratory in a part-time capacity for the past three years. The RPB fellowship will allow him to focus more intently on his studies with Dr. Connor on the role of retinal microglia in mouse models of retinopathy for the next year.

“We are grateful for this generous support from Research to Prevent Blindness,” said Joan W. Miller, M.D., the Henry Willard Williams Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. “It is my sincere hope that this research project and Mr. Kim’s work will bring us a step closer to better understanding this devastating disease and identifying potential pathways of treatment.”

Kim draws inspiration for his work from his own mother’s battle with blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa.

“One of the harshest realities I have had to face is that my mother's condition is irreversible and unpreventable,” said Kim. “Trying to better understand the physical and emotional challenges that my mother is faced with has motivated me to not only learn more about vision loss, but also to help in any way I can.”

About Research to Prevent Blindness
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 throughout the United States for research into blinding eye diseases. For information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, please visit

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.  U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals Survey” has consistently ranked the Mass. Eye and Ear Departments of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology as top in the nation.  For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit

About Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology ( 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.