Joan Miller, MD FARVO

Massachusetts Eye & Ear, Harvard Medical School

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Massachusetts Eye & Ear, Harvard Medical School


As an ophthalmologist with subspecialty expertise in retina, I am dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanisms of ocular disease and improving therapeutic interventions. I pursue these objectives using a combination of laboratory and clinical research, clinical care, teaching, and administrative leadership. These activities take place primarily at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary—the flagship academic center for the Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology—and extend worldwide through global collaborations and partnerships.

My research interests focus on neovascular diseases of the retina and choroid, particularly age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. My work has led to two signficant advances: the first pharmacologic therapy for AMD, and the identification of a prominent therapeutic target in neovascular retinal disease. The first endeavor comprised the development of photodynamic therapy (PDT) with verteporfin, from preclinical studies to clinical trials to FDA approval, for the treatment of choroidal neovascularization. A parallel line of investigation identified the key role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in pathological retinal and choroidal neovascularization. Several drugs targeting VEGF were subsequently developed, and many are now approved by health authorities worldwide. Ongoing studies are pursuing other mechanisms of vision loss in retinal disease, and identifying novel therapeutic targets through genetic studies.