By Kristen Mulvihill
Scheie Vision Summer 2019
Jennifer Thorne, MD, PhD, returned to Philadelphia this spring to celebrate the 145th Anniversary of the Department of Ophthalmology as the Honored Alumni Lecturer.
Originally from Kirkwood, Missouri, Dr. Thorne traveled to the east coast for college and medical school, where she continues to reside and practice.
Dr. Thorne received her undergraduate degree at the College of William & Mary and her medical degree at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. After completing an internship in internal medicine at the University of Maryland, Dr. Thorne completed her residency at the Scheie Eye Institute.
At the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, Dr. Thorne completed her uveitis fellowship, and received a K23 award for clinical research. She then completed her PhD in epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Thorne has remained at Johns Hopkins ever since, currently serving as the Cross Family Professor of Ophthalmology, Chief of the Division of Ocular Immunology, and Uveitis Fellowship Director in the Division of Ocular Immunology. She is also a Professor of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dr. Thorne recalls her initial interest in the field of ophthalmology. “I liked how you could combine both medicine and surgery. And I liked being able to look directly into the eye and help people with their vision,” she said. “People value vision very highly, so it’s quite rewarding when you can help.”
Dr. Thorne specializes in the diagnosis and management of uveitis and other ocular inflammatory diseases. She also has expertise in clinical study design, conduct, and data analysis.
“I like the idea of being able to take a question or an assumption that you have in clinical care, and apply a more rigorous design to that question to test what you think is true in the clinic, to see if in fact it is,” she explained. “I think you can learn a lot from studies that help you guide the care of your patients and help you communicate why you do what you do to a patient.”
Dr. Thorne’s research focuses on clinical and visual outcomes from treatment of ocular inflammatory disease. She also studies the effect of immunosuppressant drug therapy on patients with vision-threatening ocular inflammatory diseases, and whether or not more aggressive treatment prevents complications and visual loss in patients.
Dr. Thorne fondly remembers her time as a Scheie resident, especially her retina rotations and her rotations at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (VA). “I liked that both of them were very busy. There was a lot to do and a lot of different diseases to manage,” she said.
During her rotations at the VA, Dr. Thorne particularly enjoyed the independence and working with residents of different years. “It fostered more of a team mentality, and I liked that.” She also enjoyed working with Drs. Maguire, Fine, and Brucker in their clinics.
Looking forward, Dr. Thorne is eager to expand her clinical and research collaborations and continue to provide mentorship to fellows, medical students, and junior faculty.
Outside of her clinical and research responsibilities, Dr. Thorne enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with her 14-year-old daughter. The Scheie Eye Institute was honored to welcome back Dr. Thorne at the Scheie Alumni Meeting to celebrate the Department’s 145th Anniversary.