Joan W. Miller, MD, FARVO
Chair, Department of Ophthalmology
Chief of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital
Co-director, Laser Laboratory, Mass. Eye and Ear; Co-director, Angiogenesis Laboratory, Mass. Eye and Ear; Senior Scientist, Mass. Eye and Ear
BIOGRAPHY Joan Whitten Miller was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and conducted undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received her medical degree and ophthalmology residency training from Harvard Medical School, and completed fellowships in ophthalmology research and vitreoretinal surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear. In 2003, Dr. Miller became the first female physician to achieve the rank of Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and the first woman to chair the Department of Ophthalmology. She is also the first woman appointed as chief of ophthalmology at both Mass. Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Miller is co-director of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Angiogenesis Laboratory and a vitreoretinal physician in the Retina Service.
Dr. Miller is an internationally recognized expert on retinal disorders, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal degenerations, and diabetic retinopathy. Along with Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas, she is credited with developing photodynamic therapy with verteporfin (Visudyne®), the first AMD treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and drug regulatory agencies worldwide. Dr. Miller is also recognized for co-discovering the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in eye disease, and demonstrating the therapeutic potential of VEGF inhibitors. This work formed the scientific basis of anti-angiogenic ophthalmic therapies, which are widely used to prevent vision loss in AMD and other retinal diseases by blocking abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage. Dr. Miller continues to elucidate the pathophysiology of vision loss and to improve therapeutic options for retinal disease. Current studies focus on the genetics of AMD, strategies for early intervention in AMD, and neuroprotective therapies for retinal disease.
Dr. Miller has authored more than 170 peer-reviewed papers and 60 book chapters or review articles. She is a co-editor of the 3rd edition of Albert and Jakobiec’s Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology, an editorial board member of the journal Ophthalmology, and a named inventor on ten US patents and five Canadian patents. She is a Gold Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and has received numerous awards, including the Rosenthal Award, J. Donald M. Gass Medal, and Paul Henkind Memorial Award (all from the Macula Society); the Retina Research Award (Club Jules Gonin); the Alcon Research Institute Award; the ARVO/Pfizer Ophthalmic Translational Research Award; the Founder’s Award (American Society of Retinal Specialists); the Joseph B. Martin Dean's Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women Faculty (Harvard Medical School); the Suzanne Veronneau-Troutman Award (Women in Ophthalmology); and the Senior Achievement Award (American Academy of Ophthalmology). Dr. Miller delivered the 2012 Edward Jackson Lecture for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. In 2013 she was elected to the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis. In 2014 she was named the recipient of the 2015 Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology, one of ARVO’s highest honors; Dr. Miller is the first woman to receive this award, which recognizes distinguished scholarly contributions to the clinical practice of ophthalmology. For her contributions to the development of anti-angiogenic retinal therapies, Dr. Miller was a co-recipient of the 2014 António Champalimaud Vision Award, the highest distinction in ophthalmology and visual science.