Joan W. Miller, M.D.

Harvard Medical School

David Glendenning Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology
Chair, Department of Ophthalmology

Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Chief of Ophthalmology
Co-Director, Angiogenesis Laboratory
Co-Director, Laser Research Laboratory
Co-Director, Retina Research Institute
Senior Scientist

Massachusetts General Hospital

Chief of Ophthalmology

Research Summary

Center/Research Area Affiliations

Research Summary

Dr. Miller’s clinical and research interests focus on retinal disorders, including age related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic eye disease, and macular telangiectasia (MacTel). She and her colleagues at Mass. Eye and Ear pioneered the development of photodynamic therapy (PDT) using verteporfin (Visudyne®), the first pharmacologic therapy for AMD. Dr. Miller also identified the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in ocular neovascularization, forming the scientific basis of current antiangiogenic therapies for intraocular vascular diseases (including neovascular AMD and diabetic eye disease). Dr. Miller continues investigations to elucidate the pathophysiology of vision loss and improve therapies for retinal diseases.

Current projects

Neuroprotective therapies for retinal disease: Dr. Miller studies the mechanisms of photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cell death with the goal of developing effective combination neuroprotective therapies.

Genetics of AMD: In collaboration with Dr. Margaret DeAngelis of University of Utah, Dr. Miller is identifying novel loci associated with AMD and genetic differences in AMD subtypes using sibling-correlation and genome-wide association studies.

Anti-inflammatory interventions for AMD: A co-investigator in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), Dr. Miller studied the effects of dietary constituents in preventing AMD progression. In the laboratory, she examines the anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic effects of fatty acid metabolites in animal models of AMD.

The MacTel Project: Dr. Miller is an investigator in a collaborative research effort to identify the causes and appropriate treatments for this idiopathic condition.

Select Publications

1. Miller JW, Adamis AP, Shima DT, D'Amore PA, Moulton RS, O'Reilly MS, Folkman J, Dvorak HF, Brown LF, Berse B. Vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor is temporally and spatially correlated with ocular angiogenesis in a primate model. Am J Pathol. 1994 Sep; 145 (3) :574-84. PubMed PMID:7521577; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1890317.

2. Miller JW, Walsh AW, Kramer M, Hasan T, Michaud N, Flotte TJ, Haimovici R, Gragoudas ES. Photodynamic therapy of experimental choroidal neovascularization using lipoprotein-delivered benzoporphyrin. Arch Ophthalmol. 1995 Jun; 113 (6) :810-8. PubMed PMID:7540388.

3. Miller JW, Schmidt-Erfurth U, Sickenberg M, Pournaras CJ, Laqua H, Barbazetto I, Zografos L, Piguet B, Donati G, Lane AM, Birngruber R, van den Berg H, Strong A, Manjuris U, Gray T, Fsadni M, Bressler NM, Gragoudas ES. Photodynamic therapy with verteporfin for choroidal neovascularization caused by age-related macular degeneration: results of a single treatment in a phase 1 and 2 study. Arch Ophthalmol. 1999 Sep;117(9):1161-73. Erratum in: Arch Ophthalmol 2000 Apr;118(4):488. PubMed PMID: 10496388.

4. Krzystolik MG, Afshari MA, Adamis AP, Gaudreault J, Gragoudas ES, Michaud NA, Li W, Connolly E, O'Neill CA, Miller JW. Prevention of experimental choroidal neovascularization with intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibody fragment. Arch Ophthalmol. 2002 Mar; 120 (3) :338-46. PubMed PMID:11879138.

5. Murakami Y, Matsumoto H, Roh M, Suzuki J, Hisatomi T, Ikeda Y, Miller JW, Vavvas DG. Receptor interacting protein kinase mediates necrotic cone but not rod cell death in a mouse model of inherited degeneration. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.  2012 Sep 4;109(36):14598-603. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206937109. Epub 2012 Aug 20. PubMed PMID: 22908283; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3437885

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  • 1980: S.B., Life Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1981–1985: M.D., cum laude, Harvard Medical School

Postgraduate Training

  • 1985–1986: Internship, Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital
  • 1986–1989: Residency, Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
  • 1989–1991: Fellowship, Vitreoretinal Surgery, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
  • 1989–1991: Research Fellowship, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Professional Memberships (select)

  • 1984–present: Massachusetts Medical Society   
  • 1987–present: American Medical Association
  • 1989–present: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) (2013–2016: Member, ARVO Foundation Board of Governors)
  • 1991–present: American Board of Ophthalmology    
  • 1992–present: American Academy of Ophthalmology (2002–2005: Retina Panel, Preferred Practice Patterns)
  • 1992–present: American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 1993–present: Research to Prevent Blindness 
  • 1994–present: New England Ophthalmological Society (2013–2014: President)
  • 1995–present: Retina Society
  • 1995–present: Macula Society (2016–present: Treasurer) 
  • 1998–present: Club Jules Gonin
  • 2002–present: Alcon Research Institute
  • 2007–present: Women in Retina
  • 2007–present: Women in Ophthalmology (2007–present: Nominating Committee)
  • 2008–present: American Ophthalmological Society
  • 2009–present: Women in Eye and Vision Research (2009–present: Leadership Committee)
  • 2012–present: Heed Ophthalmic Foundation (2012–present: Board of Directors)
  • 2013–present: Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, Chair LXVIII
  • 2015–present: National Academy of Medicine

Honors (select)

  • 1999: Rosenthal Award, Macula Society
  • 2002: Retina Research Award, Club Jules Gonin
  • 2006: ARVO/Pfizer Award
  • 2009: J. Donald Gass Medal, Macula Society
  • 2010: Joseph B. Martin Dean’s Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women Faculty, Harvard Medical School
  • 2011: Paul Henkind Memorial Award, Macula Society
  • 2012: Edward Jackson Memorial Lectureship, American Academy of Ophthalmology 
  • 2000: "Best of What's New" Award (Visudyne), Popular Science
  • 2000: "Top Products of 2000" Award (Visudyne), Business Week
  • 2012: Pinnacle Award for Achievement in the Professions, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
  • 2012: Boston's Best Doctors, Boston Magazine
  • 2013: Honoree, ARVO Foundation for Eye Research
  • 2014: António Champalimaud Vision Award
  • 2015: Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology

Editorial Roles (select)

  • 2005–2013: Editorial Board, JAMA Ophthalmology (formerly Archives of Ophthalmology)
  • 2013: Editorial Board, Ophthalmology

Teaching (select)

  • 2005: Co-Director, Residents Course (biennial), Harvard Medical School
  • 2010: Co-Director, Department of Ophthalmology Biennial Symposium on Age-Related Macular Degeneration (biennial)
  • Harvard Medical School
  • 2012–2012: Program Co-Director, Retina Subspecialty Day, American Academy of Ophthalmology (In conjunction with the American Society of Retina Specialists, the Macula Society, the Retina Society, and Club Jules Gonin)

Other Professional Roles/Advisory Boards

  • 2011–2015: Alcon Research Council
  • 2012–present: Consultant, KalVista Pharmaceuticals, Ltd.
  • 2013–2014: Consultant, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • 2013–2014: Consultant, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • 2013–2014: Consultant, Imagen Biotech, Inc.
  • 2013–present: Scientific Advisory Board, ONL Therapeutics, LLC
  • 2013–present: Scientific Advisory Board, MacuLogix, Inc.
  • 2014: Consultant, Biogen, Inc.
  • 2014–present: Board Member, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) / Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR)
  • 2014–2016: Consultant, Amgen, Inc.


  • Miller JW, Young LHY, Gragoudas ES, inventors; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignee. Angiographic method using green porphyrins in primate eyes. United States Patent US 5,707,986. January 13, 1998.
  • Levy J, Miller JW, Gragoudas ES, Hasan T, Schmidt-Erfurth U, inventors; The General Hospital Corporation, Quadra Logic Technologies, Inc., Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignees. Use of green porphyrins to treat neovasculature in the eye. United States Patent US 5,798,349. August 25, 1998.
  • Miller JW, Gragoudas ES, inventors; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignee. Use of green porphyrins to treat neovasculature in the eye. United States Patent US 6,225,303. May 1, 2001.
  • Miller JW, Gragoudas ES, inventors; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignee. Use of green porphyrins to treat neovasculature in the eye. United States Patent US 6,610,679. August 26, 2003.
  • Miller JW, Gragoudas ES, Renno RZ, inventors; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignee. Methods and compositions for treating conditions of the eye. United States Patent US 7,125,542. October 24, 2006.
  • Iliaki E, Adamis AP, Miller JW, Gragoudas ES, inventors; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignee. Treatment of ocular disorders. United States Patent US 7,419,666. September 2, 2008.
  • Adamis AP, Miller JW, Gragoudas ES, Mescher MJ, Dube CE, Borenstein JT, Weinstein MG, Miller RA, Hansberry ML; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., assignees. Implantable Drug Delivery Device and Use Thereof. United States Patent US 7,563,255. July 21, 2009.
  • Gragoudas ES, Poulaki V, Miller JW, inventors; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignee. Methods and compositions for treating conditions of the eye. United States Patent US 7,803,375.
  • Zacks D, Miller JW, inventors; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, assignee. Methods for preserving the viability of photoreceptor cells by anti-FAS-ligand/anti-FAS-receptor antibodies. United States Patent US 7,811,832. October 12, 2010.