Lotfi Merabet, OD, PhD, MPH, an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a clinician scientist at Mass Eye and Ear, has been named the inaugural Frederick and Thaddeus Jakobiec Chair in Ophthalmology at Mass Eye and Ear. An international leader in eye pathology and the former Chair of Harvard Ophthalmology and Chief of the Mass Eye and Ear Department of Ophthalmology, the late Dr. Jakobiec established this chair to support translational vision research.
Dr. Merabet joined the Harvard Ophthalmology faculty in 2010 as a clinician scientist and member of Mass Eye and Ear's Vision Rehabilitation Service. He is a world-renowned expert in neuroplasticity associated with ocular and brain-based visual impairment. Cerebral visual impairment (CVI) is the leading cause of pediatric visual impairment and blindness in the United States and developed countries. In response to this unmet public health concern, he has forged a large-scale collaborative project with the Perkins School for the Blind that incorporates advanced multi-modal brain imaging methodologies and novel virtual reality-based assessment tools. Dr. Merabet's work has helped us understand how individuals with ocular blindness use regions of the brain normally associated with analyzing visual information for the purpose of processing non-visual sensory information, and how individuals with CVI process visual information after early brain damage. We now know that these neuroplastic changes are crucial to the development of adaptive behaviors.
Dr. Merabet’s innovative research has important implications for vision rehabilitation and education. By promoting a more neuroscience-focused approach in understanding sensory processing in children with visual impairments, the results of his findings are influencing the training and thought processing of many teachers for the visually impaired that ultimately will help in the development of novel teaching strategies for the classroom.
In addition to his research initiatives, Dr. Merabet is a passionate and committed advocate for the visually impaired community, particularly children and adolescents. He serves on the Board of Directors Education and CVI Steering Committees of the Perkins School for the Blind, and Trustees for the Carroll Center for the Blind and the National Braille Press. His commitment was recognized with the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind, the 2021 Mass General Brigham Pillars of Excellence Award for Fostering Community, and in 2022, the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Dean’s Community Service Award, and the Collaboration Partnership Award from the Perkins School for the Blind.
A devoted mentor, Dr. Merabet has taught students and trainees at HMS and Harvard Chan School of Public Health. In 2018, he was recognized with the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from HMS.