Dr. Joan O’Brien

Title: Department Chair and Professor of Ophthalmology
Company: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Location: Merion Station, Pennsylvania, United States

Dr. Joan O’Brien, Department Chair and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Doctors for dedication, achievements, and leadership in ophthalmology and academia.

Realizing her ambitions to become a doctor early on, Dr. O’Brien attended Middlebury College, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1979. After completed pre-medical studies and a host of fellowships at such institutions as Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cancer Research Center, she went on to earn a Doctor of Medicine from the Dartmouth Medical School in 1989. She completed her medical training in 1993 as a fellow in ocular oncology, plastics and orbital surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. Following the completion of her medical training, Dr. O’Brien served UC San Francisco as a clinical instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, Pearl and Samuel Kimura Professor of Ophthalmology and full professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Ophthalmology until departing in 2009. Since 2010, she has excelled as the William F. Norris and George E. de Schweinitz Professor of Ophthalmology and chairperson of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

In her roles at UPenn, Dr. O’Brien lead the Department of Ophthalmology in all three aspects of the institution’s mission: patient care, research and education. She has been a faculty advisor for UPenn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, a mentor for the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics Junior Investigators Annual Symposium at the Perelman School of Medicine and a physician mentor for Penn Women’s Biomedical Physician Shadowing Program. She also maintains a clinical practice, where she specializes in the treatment of ocular tumors, including retinoblastoma, ocular melanoma, conjunctival malignancies, ocular metastases and ocular and CNS lymphoma. Likewise, she conducts research on the genetics of eye diseases and leads one of the 10 foremost laboratories nationwide that collaborates with the eyeGENE Network. In the current day, Dr. O’Brien is the primary investigator on the Primary Open-Angle African American Glaucoma Genetics study, an $11.25 million project that seeks to understand the genetic architecture of PAog in African Americans.

In recognition of her success, Dr. O’Brien has received myriad accolades, most recently including the 2020 ICA Conference Health Communications Division Award from Rutgers University and was named a 2020 Silver Fellow in the ARVO Fellows Class of 2020 by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. In 2019, she received the Retina Research Foundation’s Gertrude D. Pyron Award for Lifetime Research Achievement. She also draws upon several honors from the USC Keck School of Medicine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Newsweek, the University of California, San Francisco and Dartmouth Medical School.

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