BOSTON – (July 19, 2016) – Jennifer K. Sun, M.D., MPH, Investigator in the Section on Vascular Biology at Joslin Diabetes Center, an Ophthalmologist in Beetham Eye Institute (BEI) at Joslin Diabetes Center and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, has been granted an RPB Physician-Scientist Award by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). Up to $300,000 will be provided over three years. This award allows M.D./Ph.D.s at medical institutions in the United States to devote more time to clinical eye research activities, providing greater opportunities for specialized study with direct application to the patient care. Dr. Sun is one of four RPB Physician-Scientists at four institutions who have received the award since it was re-established in 2015.

“Dr. Sun embodies the highest ideals of the physician-scientist,” said Lloyd P. Aiello, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Joslin Diabetes Center. “The RPB Physician-Scientist Award recognizes her outstanding achievement in this regard and will allow her to continue important studies that may eventually change the way we care for our patients with diabetes.”

Dr. Sun is receiving this award for her work with noninvasive optical coherence tomography angiography to establish changes in the retinal capillary network as biomarkers that predict retinal neural damage leading to vision loss or the worsening of diabetic retinopathy over time.

As an Investigator in the Section on Vascular Biology, Dr. Sun’s research into diabetic eye disease has helped to improve the sight and lives of millions of people with diabetes.  She has been instrumental in helping to design and implement multiple studies through the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network, which have changed the standard of care for patients at risk for vision loss from diabetic eye complications.

Dr. Sun also collaborates with George King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in the 50-Year Medalist study, where she studies diabetic eye disease and potential protective factors that have kept participants’ eyes healthy over 50+ years of type 1 diabetes. Another research focus involves the use of advanced retinal imaging techniques to more accurately predict risk of vision loss and worsening of vascular disease in the diabetic eye.

In addition to her research, Dr. Sun also performs clinical duties as an ophthalmologist in the BEI. She sees patients, performs retinal surgeries and administers anti-VEGF treatment, a therapy that has revolutionized the treatment of diabetic macular edema. 

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, treatments and prevention of blinding eye disease.