Lucia Sobrin, M.D., MPH

Harvard Medical School

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology

Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Director, Morse Laser Center
Co-Director, Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Fellowship 
Department of Ophthalmology Scholar
Associate Scientist


Research Summary

Center/Research Area Affiliations

Research Summary

Dr. Sobrin has a clinical focus on retinal diseases and posterior uveitis and a research focus on identifying genes associated with polygenic ophthalmic diseases, particularly diabetic retinopathy..She led a candidate gene association study of diabetic retinopathy within the Candidate gene Association Resource (CARe), which included patients from several large population-based cohorts as well as an admixture genetic association study for diabetic retinopathy in African Americans. Currently, she is the principal investigator a multi-ethnic genome-wide association study of diabetic retinopathy.  She is also has an interest in ocular disease pharmacogenetics and is chair of the Genetics Committee for the

Current Projects

Dr. Sobrin is the principal investigator on several studies investigating the genetics of diabetic retinopathy, particularly in African Americans. Diabetic retinopathy is a common, blinding complication of diabetes. It has been suspected for some time that compared with other ethnic groups, African Americans develop diabetic retinopathy more often and tend to have faster progression of the disease. The reasons for this have not been explained. It is not solely due to the degree of blood sugar control. In other ethnicities, it has been shown that the risk of developing retinopathy is partially inherited through genes passed on from one generation to the next. It is believed that this is also true for African Americans and that they may carry certain genes that increase their risk of developing retinopathy.

Dr. Sobrin is the principal investigator of a National Eye Institute-funded study to identify genes associated with diabetic retinopathy. The investigation involves research groups from across the United States and the world and over 15,000 patients.  The goal of the study is to look across the entire human genome for genetic changes that increase the risk of developing retinopathy.  If genes associated with retinopathy are found, they may provide information for developing new treatments for diabetic retinopathy.  Dr. Sobrin is the Chair of the Genetics Committee for the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (, a collaborative, multi-center effort for clinical trials in diabetic retinopathy.  The has an ongoing genetic study to determine if genetic variants influence patients’ response to commonly used medications for diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.