Wills Eye Hospital Appoints Internationally Recognized Leader as Vice Chair for Research

Dr. Leslie G. Hyman will lead advanced studies in causes and cures of blindness

Feb 22, 2016, 16:16 ET from Wills Eye Hospital

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Wills Eye Hospital today announced that Dr. Leslie G. Hyman, an internationally recognized leader in the field of vision research and public health, has been appointed to spearhead the expansion of the Hospital's research program.  Dr. Hyman, an ocular epidemiologist who has been at the forefront of scientific research into the leading causes and risk factors of visual impairment, will serve as Vice Chair for Research at Wills Eye.

In addition, she will hold the Thomas D. Duane Endowed Chair in the Department of Ophthalmology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and she will become Co-Director of the Wills Vision Research Center at Jefferson.  Dr. Hyman will assume her duties this summer.

"We are thrilled to have Dr. Hyman join Wills Eye Hospital. She is an absolute all-star.  Her mastery of science, global stature, and proven track record in leading landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) -funded studies make her a perfect fit for the next exciting trajectory of research at Wills Eye Hospital," said Julia A. Haller, MD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief.

"I am honored to join this internationally-respected and world-renowned institution," said Dr. Hyman.  "So many people around the country speak about the outstanding reputation, consistently impressive work, and commitment to excellence of Wills Eye Hospital. I just knew I wanted to be a part of it. The many thought leaders in Ophthalmology based at Wills, combined with its extensive network of clinicians locally, nationally and internationally, its rich clinical database and affiliation with Jefferson, provide an extraordinary opportunity to lead research efforts to further address important clinical questions, particularly in this era of expanding digital technologies and big data.  It's also a special honor to have my name linked with that of Dr. Duane, whose far-reaching influence in ophthalmology elevated this specialty to new heights around the world. I am so energized to join the team dedicated to building on that legacy."

Dr. Hyman received her undergraduate degree from Brandeis University and earned her Masters and PhD in Epidemiology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health (now Bloomberg School of Public Health).  Upon completion of her doctorate, she was recruited to the Department of Preventive Medicine (now Family, Population and Preventive Medicine) at Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, New York, where she rose through the ranks to lead the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, being named the Head in 2004.

"Wills Eye Hospital is steadfast in its dedication to research in vision science as an essential part of our mission," said Board President Ronald R. Donatucci, Esquire.  "This recruitment is another example of our ongoing determination to lead."

Dr. Hyman has authored over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers, books, reviews and editorials, has been an international guest lecturer in the areas of retinal, glaucoma, and corneal disease, and has led numerous studies examining eye disease in different populations.  She has made unique, significant and pioneering contributions to vision research by advancing the field of ophthalmic epidemiology and clinical trials, with important implications for understanding the major causes of blindness and guiding the delivery of eye care.  Beginning early in her career, she achieved wide national and international recognition for being the first to conduct a large scale case-control study to identify risk factors for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.  Her work on macular degeneration helped lay the foundation for future research on its causes and treatments.  She has also done extensive work in myopia progression and stabilization in children, evaluating treatment for glaucoma, and examining how hypertension and cardiovascular risk factors impact causes of visual decline.  Her work outside the field of vision research includes the study of the role of periodontal therapy on diabetes management. Dr. Hyman played crucial roles in seminal vision research studies including the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET) Eye Study, the Early Manifest Glaucoma Trial (EMGT), and the Barbados Eye Study. Dr. Hyman has served on many prestigious professional and scientific committees and boards, including the Editorial Board for Archives of Ophthalmology (JAMA Ophthalmology), NIH/National Eye Institute Strategic Planning Committees, NIH Study Sections, the Scientific Advisory Board of Foundation Fighting Blindness, and various Study Advisory and Data and Safety Monitoring Committees. She has had leadership positions in the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), and The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO.) She is an ARVO fellow and a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology and the American Academy of Optometry.

Dr. Thomas Duane was Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of Wills Eye Hospital from 1972 to 1982.  His landmark review, Ophthalmic Research: USA, commissioned by Research to Prevent Blindness in 1965, forever changed the landscape of vision research in our country and provided crucial validation for the establishment of the National Eye Institute.

Wills Eye Hospital consistently ranks as one of America's top ophthalmology centers in US News & World Report's annual Best Hospitals rankings each year. Established in 1832 as the nation's first hospital specializing solely in eye care, Wills Eye is a premier training site for all levels of medical education. Its resident and post-graduate training programs are among the most competitive in the country. Wills provides the full range of primary and subspecialty eye care for improving and preserving sight, including cataract, cornea, retina, emergency care, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, oculoplastics, pathology, pediatric ophthalmology, ocular genetics and refractive surgery.

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