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.


1997: BS, cum laude, Biology, University of Miami

1999: MD, with Research Distinction, University of Miami School of Medicine

2008: MPH, Clinical Effectiveness, Harvard School of Public Health

Postgraduate Training

2000: Internship, Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

2003: Resident, Ophthalmology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

2005: Fellowship, Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery, Massachusetts Eye and Ear

2006: Fellowship, Uveitis and Ocular Immunology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Academic Appointments

2013-present: Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

2009-2013: Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

2006-2009: Instructor, Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

Professional Memberships

2000 – present: Member, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

2000 – present: Member, American Academy of Ophthalmology

2007 – present: Member, American Society of Retinal Specialists

2008 – present: Member, American Uveitis Society

2010 – present: Member, Retina Society

2012 - present : Member, International Ocular Inflammation Society

2015 – present: Member, Macula Society

2016 – present: Member, Club Jules Gonin

2017 – present: Member, International Uveitis Study Group


1995:   Phi Beta Kappa, University of Miami

1997:  University of Miami Vice President’s Award for Service

1998: Alpha Omega Alpha, Junior Year, University of Miami School of Medicine

  1999: Edward W. D. Norton Award for Outstanding Performance in Ophthalmology

1999: Janet M. Glasgow Memorial Award for graduating first in class

2003: Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Award for Outstanding Resident Research Presentation

2005: Association for Research in Ophthalmology and Visual Science Travel Grant

2010: ADVANCE Ophthalmology Scholar

2011: ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award

2012: Tonseth-Joslin Fellowship

2013: American Academy of Ophthalmology Achievement Award

2015: Alcon Research Institute Young Investigator Award

2016:   Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Clinical Teacher of the Year Award

2016:   Ocular Surgery News’s Retina 150


Selected Publications

For a full publication list, please see her CV.

Meng W, Shah KP, Pollack S, Toppila I, Hebert HL, Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2 (WTCCC2), Surrogate markers for Micro- and Macro-vascular hard endpoints for Innovative diabetes Tools (SUMMIT) study group, McCarthy MI, Groop L, Ahlqvist E, Lyssenko V, Agardh E, Daniell M, Kaidonis G, Craig JE, Mitchell P, Liew G, Kifley A, Wang JJ, Christiansen MW, Jensen RA, Penman A, Hancock HA, Chen CJ, Correa A, Kuo JZ, Li X, Chen YI, Rotter JI, Klein R, Klein B, Wong TY, Morris AD, Doney ASF, Colhoun HM, Price AL, Burdon KP, Groop P-H, Sandholm N, Grassi MA, Sobrin L, Palmer CAN. A genome-wide association study suggests new evidence for an association of the NADPH Oxidase 4 (NOX4) gene with severe diabetic retinopathy in type 2 diabetesActa Ophthalmol 2018.

Sobrin L, Chong YH, Fan Q, Gan A, Stanwyck LK, Kaidonis G, Craig JE, Kim J, Liao L, Huang Y-C, Lee W-J, Hung Y-J, Guo X, Hai Y, Ipp E, Pollack S, Hancock H, Price A, Penman A, Mitchell P, Liew G, Smith AV, Gudnadson V, Tan G, Klein BEK, Kuo J, Li X, Christiansen MW, Psaty BM, Sandow K, Asian Genetic Epidemiology Network Consortium, Jensen RA, Klein R, Cotch MF, Wang JJ, Jia Y, Chen CJ, Chen Y-DI, Rotter JI, Tsai F-J, Hanis CL, Burdon KP, Wong TY, Cheng C-Y. Genetically determined plasma lipid levels and risk of diabetic retinopathy: a Mendelian randomization studyDiabetes 2017; 66:3130-41.

Tandon A, Chen CJ, Penman A, Hancock H, James M, Husain D, Andreoli C, Li X, Kou JZ, Idowu O, Riche DM, Papavasileiou E, Brauner S, Smith SO, Hoadley S, Richardson C, Kieser T, Vazquez V, Chi C, Fernandez M, Harden M, Cotch MF, Siscovick D, Taylor HA, Wilson JG, Reich D, Wong TY, Klein R, Klein BEK, Rotter JI, Patterson N, Sobrin L.  African ancestry analysis and admixture genetic mapping for proliferative diabetic retinopathy in African Americans.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2015; 56:3999-4005.z

Penman A, Hancock H, Papavasileiou E, James M, Idowu O, Riche DM, Fernandez M, Brauner S, Smith SO, Hoadley S, Richardson C, Vazquez V, Chi C, Andreoli C, Husain D, Chen CJ, Sobrin L.  Risk factors for proliferative diabetic retinopathy in African Americans with type 2 diabetes.  Ophthalmic Epidemiol 2016; 23:88-93.

Davoudi S, Papavasileiou E, Roohipoor R, Cho H, Kudrimoti S, Hancock H, Hoadley S, Husain D, Andreoli C, James M, Penman A, Chen CJ, Sobrin LOptical coherence tomography characteristics of macular edema and hard exudates and their association with lipid serum levels in type 2 diabetesRETINA 2016; In Press.

Penman A, Hoadley S, Wilson JG, Taylor HA, Chen CJ, Sobrin L.  P-selectin plasma levels and genetic variant associated with diabetic retinopathy in African AmericansAm J Ophthalmol 2015; 159: 1152-60.

Tecilazich F, Feke GT, Mazzantini S, Sobrin L, Lorenzi M.  Defective myogenic response of retinal vessels is associated with accelerated onset of retinopathy in type 1 diabetic individualsInvest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2016; 57: 1523-9.

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