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Joan O'Brien sitting at deskWelcome to the summer edition of Scheie Vision. Despite the challenges we continue to face, our Department has advanced progress in research, education, patient care, and community service. You can read about each of these missions, as well as how our Department has remained proactive in the fight against COVID-19, in this issue.


Our researchers continue to make impactful developments, including conducting research on COVID-19. Kenneth Shindler, MD, PhD is collaborating with researchers worldwide to study the potential of neem bark extract to limit the cell-to-cell spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This issue also features a recent collaboration between Gyroscope Therapeutics and UPenn to develop gene therapies for blinding eye diseases. In addition, we highlight a study on the use of virtual reality technology to evaluate the functional vision of patients with inherited retinal diseases, including those who have been treated with gene therapy. You can also read about a study led by Juan Grunwald, MD that showed that progression of retinopathy is strongly associated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease events in patients with chronic kidney disease. Finally, we provide exciting news about a $6.6 million grant renewal to further investigate glaucoma genetics in African Americans.


In this edition, we also highlight our missions to provide outstanding patient care and to support underserved populations. We share the projects of two Penn Medicine CAREs grant recipients, Ranjoo Prasad, OD and first year resident Brian Nguyen, MD. Both initiatives support patient needs that were created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight a glaucoma awareness campaign that provided free screenings to Black individuals in Philadelphia. Recently, the team published articles in Preventive Medicine Reports and Health Communications that analyzed these efforts.


This year, the Department has hosted several live virtual events spotlighting the incredible advances in patient care and research made by our faculty, including Mina Massaro, MD, Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, and Ranjoo Prasad, OD. We also highlight achievements from our featured alumnus, George Kurz, MD, who recently published a book about his many years in medicine.


We also include memories and stories about Jane Portnoy, MD from her colleagues and friends. Dr. Portnoy sadly passed away on March 28, 2021, surrounded by her family. She was a treasured member of our Department for the past 20 years. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Portnoy was the first woman board-certified ophthalmologist in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Department plans to sponsor an award for the graduating medical student who best embodies the extraordinary courage, compassion, and humanitarian spirit exhibited by Dr. Portnoy.


I would like to express my utmost gratitude and appreciation to the faculty, staff, trainees, alumni, patients, and friends who continue to make Scheie an exceptional institution. As we navigate these difficult times, the remarkable efforts of each and every one of you have allowed us to preserve and propel the missions of the Scheie Eye Institute. I hope these articles provide hope and encouragement, and I wish you all a safe and healthy summer.



Joan O’Brien, MD

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