PHILADELPHIA — Joan M. O’Brien, MD, the George E. de Schweinitz and William F. Norris Professor of Ophthalmology, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Scheie Eye Institute at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was recently presented with the Women in Ophthalmology’s Suzanne Veronneau Troutman Award.

Presented at the 2013 American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in New Orleans, the award recognizes the woman, nominated by the WIO membership, who has done the most over the past year to further women in ophthalmology.

“It’s an honor be recognized in this fashion by my WIO peers whom I greatly admire and respect,” said Dr. O’Brien. “Having the opportunity to mentor women in ophthalmology is a great privilege, and I look forward to continuing this organization’s strong commitment to enhancing the diverse careers of women in the field.”

Past recipients of the award include Eydie Miller-Ellis, MD, professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and director of the Glaucoma Division at Scheie, and Eve J. Higginbotham, MD, the first Vice Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the Perelman School of Medicine.

Women in Ophthalmology was founded to enhance and improve the professional environment for women ophthalmologists. WIO encourages diversity, impartiality, and economic parity, and strives to cultivate new opportunities for leadership, education, and public service in the field of ophthalmology for current and future generations.

Dr. O’Brien previously served as professor and vice chair of Ophthalmology and director of the Ocular Oncology Division at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). She received her medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and completed her residency training in ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a fellowship in oculoplastic surgery and oncology at UCSF. 

Her research fellowships were in immunology at the Harvard Medical School and in molecular ophthalmic pathology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Whitehead Institute of MIT. She specializes in the treatment of ocular tumors, including retinoblastoma, ocular melanoma, conjunctival malignancies, ocular metastases, and ocular and CNS lymphoma. Her research focuses on the genetics of eye disease, including retinoblastoma, melanoma and glaucoma.

With nearly 200 publications, Dr. O’Brien’s work has recently appeared in Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. She has received numerous honors, including a UCSF resident teaching award, the Champion of Diversity award, a Physician-Scientist Award from Research to Prevent Blindness, a Career Development Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, and an Honor Award and a Senior Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. O'Brien also has a long history of research support from the National Cancer Institute for clinical trials and the National Eye Institute for basic science investigations.

More recently, Dr. O’Brien was elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one of the nation's highest honors in biomedicine.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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