Joan M. O’Brien, MD, has served as the George E. deSchweinitz and William F. Norris
Professor of Ophthalmology, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Director of
the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine since
January of 2010. Dr. O’Brien previously served as Professor and Vice Chair of
Ophthalmology and Director of the Ocular Oncology Division at the University of
California at San Francisco from 1995-2009.
Dr. O’Brien received her Medical Degree from Dartmouth Medical School in 1986. She
completed an internship in internal medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston in 1987,
followed by research fellowships in immunology at Harvard Medical School and in
molecular ophthalmic pathology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the
Whitehead Institute at MIT from 1987-1989. Dr. O'Brien subsequently completed a
residency in ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in 1992 and a
fellowship in ocular oncology at the University of California at San Francisco in 1993.
Dr. O’Brien specializes in the treatment of ocular tumors, including retinoblastoma,
ocular melanoma, conjunctival malignancies, ocular metastases, and ocular and CNS
lymphoma. Her research focuses on the genetics of eye disease, including retinoblastoma,
melanoma and glaucoma. Dr. O’Brien’s laboratory is currently supported by the National
Eye Institute and the National Cancer Institute.
With nearly 200 publications in her field, Dr. O’Brien’s work has recently appeared in
Nature, New New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical
Association and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. She has received numerous honors,
including a Young Investigator Award and a Physician-Scientist Award from Research to
Prevent Blindness, a Career Development Award from the American Association for
Cancer Research, and an Honor Award and a Senior Achievement Award from the
American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. O'Brien also has a long history of awards
from both the National Cancer Institute for clinical trials and the National Eye Institute
for basic science investigations.