Leo A. Kim, MD, PhD, Next Incumbent of the Monte J. Wallace Ophthalmology Chair in Retina at Mass Eye and Ear

March 1, 2022

Dr. Leo KimLeo A. Kim, MD, PhD, a clinician scientist with surgical expertise and an innovator in the treatment of retinal diseases associated with neovascularization and fibrosis and an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, will serve as the next incumbent of the Monte J. Wallace Ophthalmology Chair in Retina at Mass Eye and Ear, effective December 1, 2021.

This endowed chair was established by Monte J. and Anne H. Wallace in 2016 to honor the memory of Charles L. Schepens, MD—regarded by many as the “founder of modern retinal surgery.” Mr. Wallace, a longstanding trustee of both Mass Eye and Ear and the Schepens Eye Research Institute, was a great supporter of Dr. Schepens and his research. In addition to honoring Dr. Schepens in perpetuity, the endowed chair empowers the incumbent to advance his or her academic research and teaching pursuits.

Demetrios Vavvas, MD, PhD, previously served as the inaugural Wallace Chair for the past five years, until he was recently promoted to Professor of Ophthalmology and named the Solman and Libe Friedman Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Kim—a retina surgeon, researcher at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear, and a dedicated teacher and mentor—shares many commonalities with Dr. Schepens and is an ideal incumbent of the Wallace Ophthalmology Chair in Retina. He joined the faculty in 2011, when he was selected for the department’s highly competitive NIH/NEI-funded K12 Harvard-Vision Clinical Scientist Training Program, focusing on the study of toxic retinopathies. Since then, his research has centered on pathological angiogenesis and proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR). Among his many significant research contributions, Dr. Kim discovered the role of RUNX1 in angiogenesis and, more recently, its role in epithelial-mesenchymal transition and the development of PVR. Notably, he and his colleagues uncovered the mechanisms of methotrexate in PVR, which is currently undergoing a clinical trial as a potential therapy for PVR.

In addition to his work as a clinician scientist, Dr. Kim is also a generous and committed mentor to Harvard undergraduate students, medical students, ophthalmology residents, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical fellows. Many of his mentees have been recognized with awards and scholarships—including the Howard Hughes Medical Student Fellowship, the Heed Fellowship, the Machemer Fellowship, and the Gragoudas-Folkman Award—and now have faculty positions at top institutions.