Neena B. Haider, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
Member, PhD Program in Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Associate Scientist

Research Summary

Center/Research Area Affiliations


Dr. Haider has been involved in the field of genetics and retinal disease for more than 15 years. She aims to identify key genetic factors that modulate inherited retinal diseases, and she investigates the influence of genes on the multipotency of neural stem cells and retinal progenitors. She also develops and tests therapeutic targets for retinal degenerations (including AMD and diabetic retinopathy). She recently identified a genetic modifier that is able to ameliorate more than one form of inherited retinal degeneration, and has developed several unique genetic models to study the retinal and vascular phenotypes associated with macular degeneration.


Ph.D., Genetics, University of Iowa (1999)

Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor Maine

Her Story

Research Goals

  1. Identify the key genetic factors that influence the multipotency of retinal stem cells/progenitors
  2. Evaluate the genetic modifiers capable of ameliorating retinal disease
  3. Develop and test therapeutic targets for retinal degenerations, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.

Key Research Findings

Recently, the Haider Laboratory identified a genetic modifier that is able to ameliorate retinal degeneration. This work exemplifies her laboratory's use of mouse models and demonstrates how genes in the same functional network can affect phenotype. These findings have profound implications in developing broad therapeutics for many forms of disease with the same pathology. The laboratory’s current research also revealed a novel role for vitamin D metabolism in the pathogenesis of age related macular degeneration and antioxidants in neuroprotection from light-induced retinal damage. Her laboratory has also developed unique genetic models to study the retinal and vascular phenotype associated with macular degeneration.


An internationally recognized expert in the field of genetics, Dr. Haider is frequently invited to present her findings at national, international professional meetings at academic and industrial institutions. She has been cited in more than 730 publications, four of which have been selected for the cover of the journals, including one in Nature Genetics.


Dr. Haider has established an academic goal of mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. Her aim is to help students develop the training and analytical skills needed to succeed in the medical sciences.

This strong interest and focus on the education of young scientists has been consistent throughout Dr. Haider's career. Upon her appointment as an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska, she initiated and developed a successful Advanced Molecular Genetics course. Additionally, she was Co-director for a core molecular biology course, taught genetics of retinal disease to ophthalmology residents, and was Director of the genetics portion of the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program.

Since joining Harvard Medical School as an Associate Professor in 2012, Dr. Haider has formally taught postdoctoral fellows, has led sections in a Cell Biology course for graduate students, and was an invited lecturer for the BBS 228 Genetics course. She has also been an active member of the Joint Committee for the Status of Women and was recently elected by the Harvard University Dean’s Office to serve as a faculty chair for a task force on mentoring.


Research Interests

  • Genetic factors that modulate inherited retina diseases
  • Influence of genes on the multipotency of neural stem cells and retinal progenitors
  • Novel therapeutic targets for retinal degenerations

Novel Genetic Model of Choroidal Neovascular AMD

The goal of this study is to identify the causative mutation and characterize the disease phenotype in a novel model of choroidal neovascular disease.

Genetic Causes of Macular Degeneration

The goal of this study is to use modern molecular genomics tools to identify causative alleles for macular degeneration.

Molecular Genetics of Inherited Retinal Disease

The goal of this study is to develop novel models for human retinal disease.

Genetic Modifiers of Photoreceptor Development and Maintenance

The goal of this study is to evaluate the potency of Nr2e3 and Nr1d1 as genetic modifiers that can prevent or ameliorate retinal degeneration in mouse models.


Selected Publications

Dr. Haider has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles. Below is a list of selected publications. View her publications on PubMed.

  1. Jelcick, AS, Yuan Y, Leehy, BD, Cox, L, Silveira, AC, Schenk, S, Qui, F, Sachs, AJ, Morrison, MA, DeAngelis, MM, Nystuen, AM, Haider, NB* Genetic Variations Strongly Influence Phenotypic Outcome in the Mouse Retina. PLoS One. 2011;6(7): e21858.
  2. Randazzo, J. Zhang, Z. Hoff, M., Kawada. H, Sachs, A., Yuan, Y., Haider, N., Kador, P. Orally Active Multi-Functional Antioxidants Are Neuroprotective in a Rat Model of Light-Induced Retinal Damage. PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e21926.
  3. Haider, NB*, Mollema, N, Gaule, M, Yuan, Y, Sachs, AJ, Nystuen, AM, Naggert, JK, Nishina. Nr2e3-directed transcriptional regulation of genes involved in photoreceptor development and cell-type specific phototransduction. Exp Eye Res. 2009;89(3): 365–372. *corresponding author
  4. Sachs AJ, David SA, Haider NB, Nystuen AM. Patterned Neuroprotection in the Inpp4awbl Mouse Mutant Cerebellum Correlates with the Expression of Eaat4. PLoS One. 2009;4(12): e8270. *co-corresponding author
  5. Silveira AC, Morrison MA, Ji, F, Xu, H, Reinecke, JB, Adams, S, Arnenberg, TM, Janssian, M, Lee, JE, Yuan, Y, Schaumberg, DA, Kotoula, MG, Tsironi, EE, Tsiloulis, AN, Chatzoulis, DZ, Miller, JW, Kim, IK, Farrer, L, Haider, NB, DeAngelis, MM. Convergence of linkage, gene expression and association data demonstrates that the RAR-related orphan receptor alpha (RORA) gene influences risk of neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Vision Res. 2009;50(7): 698–715.