Priya Gupta Awarded RPB Medical Student Eye Research Fellowship

June 23, 2016

Boston, Mass. — The Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School has been granted a $30,000 Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) Medical Student Research Fellowship in support of Priya Gupta. This award will allow Gupta to spend one year studying inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs), a devastating cause of blindness throughout the world affecting approximately 1.5 million patients of all ages. She will work under the mentorship of Eric Pierce, MD, PhD, an ophthalmologist and molecular geneticist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and the Sol and Libe Friedman Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and Kinga Bujakowska, PhD, vision researcher at Mass. Eye and Ear and an Instructor in Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

A third year medical student at Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Gupta will investigate the pathophysiological mechanism of retinal degeneration due to mutations in IFT172 in a murine model. The knowledge gained from this research project has the potential to not only benefit those with IRDs directly, but also advance our understanding of other more common retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.

“It is my sincere hope that this research project and Ms. Gupta’s role in it will have a positive impact on the field, allowing her to develop as a clinician scientist, and elucidating the complex underlying mechanisms of ciliopathies,”  said Joan W. Miller, MD, FARVO, the Henry Willard Williams Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. “With guidance from Drs. Pierce and Bujakowska, I am confident Ms. Gupta will succeed in her efforts. Her dedication to, and enthusiasm for, the study of vision research will be an asset to our Department while she continues growing her research experience.”

About Research to Prevent Blindness
RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions for research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding eye diseases. For more information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear 
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck.  Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships.  Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2015–2016 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in the Northeast for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit

About Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology ( is one of the leading and largest academic departments of ophthalmology in the nation. More than 350 full-time faculty and trainees work at nine HMS affiliate institutions, including Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Joslin Diabetes Center/Beetham Eye Institute, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, VA Maine Healthcare System, and Cambridge Health Alliance. Formally established in 1871, the department has been built upon a strong and rich foundation in medical education, research, and clinical care. Through the years, faculty and alumni have profoundly influenced ophthalmic science, medicine, and literature—helping to transform the field of ophthalmology from a branch of surgery into an independent medical specialty at the forefront of science.

Media Contact: 
Suzanne Day
Media Relations, Mass. Eye and Ear 


Original press release