Second year resident Ines Lains, MD, PhD, has been selected to participate in the 2021 Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO)/Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) Resident and Fellow Research Forum at the upcoming annual meeting. This forum was established to encourage the most promising trainees to pursue careers in academic ophthalmology and vision research.
Dr. Lains earned her medical degree at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, and then initiated a combined PhD-Ophthalmology residency at the same University. During this time, she received a Junior Grant and Career Development Award from Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology to support her research, as well as a research fellowship at Mass Eye and Ear under the mentorship of Deeba Husain, MD, and Joan W. Miller, MD. Following the completion of her PhD, Dr. Lains chose to pursue an academic ophthalmology career in the United States, and joined the Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Training Program.
As a research fellow, Dr. Lains spearheaded an international research project with clinicians and scientists from the University of Aveiro, the University of Coimbra (both in Portugal), the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and Harvard Ophthalmology. This ongoing multicenter study aims to identify biomarkers for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and investigate structure-function correlations in the disease. Working with her mentors, Drs. Miller and Husain, Dr. Lains is investigating the genetics, metabolomics, imaging, and functional tests of patients with AMD.
To date, Dr. Lains has published more than 50 manuscripts in top, peer-reviewed journals, including Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, Ophthalmology, and the American Journal of Ophthalmology. She has also presented her work at several national and international meetings, including the annual meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and the Retina Society. Dr. Lains has received numerous awards and honors from Harvard Ophthalmology as a research fellow, including two consecutive Gragoudas Prizes for Clinical Retina Research by a Mass Eye and Ear trainee (2017 and 2018) and “Best Clinical Poster” at the Annual Harvard Ophthalmology Trainee Poster Contest for three consecutive years (2015-2017). More recently, Dr. Lains won “Best Poster” at the 2020 New England Ophthalmological Society Annual Hecht Poster Contest.
Dr. Lains’ research that has been selected for presentation at the AUPO/RPB Research Forum is focused on genetic-metabolomic associations in AMD and how their study can provide unique insights into AMD pathogenesis. In particular, the results of this study support that the LIPC gene and the glycerophospholipid metabolic pathway play a major role in AMD, thus offering new potential therapeutic targets for this blinding disease.