Highlights from the 2022 Annual Meeting and Alumni Reunion

June 29, 2022

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Harvard Ophthalmology hosted its 2022 Annual Meeting and Alumni Reunion in-person on Friday, June 24. The CME-accredited event featured faculty and alumni lectures, award presentations, a poster contest, gala dinner, and lots of opportunities to catch up and reconnect. The event was co-chaired by Harvard Ophthalmology Chair Joan W. Miller, MD, and faculty members Joseph B. Ciolino, MD; Gena Heidary, MD, PhD; Rachel Huckfeldt, MD, PhD, and Joseph F. Rizzo III, MD.

Mariana Mead Lecture

Elena Barraquer, MD, a Harvard Ophthalmology alumna, Assistant Medical Director of the Barraquer Ophthalmology Centre in Barcelona, Spain, and CEO of the Elena Barraquer Foundation, presented the Mariana D. Mead lecture. Dr. Barraquer’s talk focused on her work leading the Elena Barraquer Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to preventing blindness due to cataracts in underserved, developing countries. Dr. Barraquer, an expert in the field of cataract and refractive surgery, leads a team of more than 70 clinical volunteers who embark on surgical mission trips across the globe to perform much needed cataract surgeries. In 2021, Dr. Barraquer and her team performed 1,361 cataract surgeries across five expeditions to Senegal, Mozambique, Mauritania, and El Salvador.

This lecture was established to honor the memory of Mariana D. Mead, MD, an accomplished ophthalmologist who trained and worked at Harvard Ophthalmology and Mass Eye and Ear before she passed away in 2002.

Alumni Reunion and Achievement Award Lectures

The Alumni Reunion program included several alumni presentations from representatives of ten graduating classes and two Distinguished Achievement Award Lectures.

Alumnus Donald J. Zack, MD, PhD, the Guerrieri Professor of Genetic Engineering and Molecular Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University and Co-Director of the Center for Stem Cells and Ocular Regenerative Medicine at Wilmer Eye Institute, presented the 2022 Distinguished Research Achievement Award Lecture. A renown retina and glaucoma researcher, Dr. Zack discussed several of the mentors who have positively impacted his career in ophthalmology and his research on the neuroprotective approaches for the treatment of photoreceptor and retinal ganglion cell degeneration.

Alumna Eve J. Higginbotham, SM, MD, ML, Professor of Ophthalmology and Vice Dean for Inclusion and Diversity at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, presented the 2022 Distinguished Clinical Achievement Award Lecture. A leading glaucoma specialist and expert on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Dr. Higginbotham discussed race as a social construct, unconscious bias in science and medicine, and how assumptions on race can lead to inequalities in care.

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Trainee Poster Contest

On Friday evening, attendees gathered at The Newbury Hotel for our annual Trainee Poster Contest, reception, and gala dinner. Thank you to Poster Contest judges Petr Baranov, MD, PhD; Nicholas Butler, MD; Thomas Dohlman, MD; and Katie Luo, MD, PhD, and thank you to all our residents and fellows for your participation.

Drs. Gena Heidary and Rachel Huckfeldt announced the Poster Contest winners.

In the basic and translational research category Feng Tian, PhD, a research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital won first place for his poster "Core transcription programs controlling injury-induced neurodegeneration of retinal ganglion cells." Meenakshi Maurya, PhD, MSc, also a research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital, won second place for her poster, "REV-ERBα deficiency accelerates age-related synaptic remodeling in mouse retina." 

In the clinical research category, Kristen Pitts, a Research Technologist at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear, won first place for her poster, "APOE and Galectin-3, markers of activated microglia, are elevated in the aqueous humor of glaucoma patients." Cris Jacoba, MD, a clinical fellow at Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center, won second place for his poster, "Automated machine learning models for diabetic retinopathy screening using handheld fundus cameras in a low-resource community screening program." 

Save the Date for 2023

Thank you to all our event organizers, speakers, honorees, and attendees for such a terrific event. Our next Annual Meeting and Alumni Reunion will take place on June 9, 2023. Please mark your calendars—we hope to see you there!

See also: Awards, Events