Dr. Eric Pierce
Dr. Eric Pierce received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He did his residency in Ophthalmology at Harvard and fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology at Children’s Hospital, Boston where he also took his first faculty position. He was then recruited to the department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. He returned to Harvard in 2011 to establish the Ocular Genomics Institute.
Dr. Pierce is an ophthalmologist and molecular geneticist whose research program is dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanisms of inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs), and improving therapeutic interventions for these conditions. IRDs are a leading cause of blindness worldwide, and are characterized by progressive dysfunction and death of retinal photoreceptor cells.
Dr. Pierce’s research program is focused on identifying new IRD disease genes, investigating the mechanism by which mutations in the identified genes lead to blindness, and using this information about disease pathogenesis to develop rational therapies to prevent vision loss.
Carol Weigel DiFranco, graduated from Regis College with a BA in Psychology and Tufts University with a MA in Child Study/Developmental Psychology with an emphasis on research, has worked with clinicians and researchers diagnosing and studying patients with Inherited Retinal Disorders since 1986. She served as the data manager of the Berman Gund , where she participated with Dr. Eliot Berson and colleagues in the design and execution of 3 clinical trials of nutritional supplements for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa and several natural history studies for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa and allied diseases. She also worked with patients and staff as the Manager of the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service . Currently she works with researchers in the Pierce Lab, OGI and Berman Gund Lab doing data management and facilitating the conduct of several clinical trials .She also provides administrative support to researchers in these labs.
Mike Scandura graduated from Tufts University in 2018 with a BS in Biology and a minor in History. As an undergraduate, he studied the relationship between psychosocial stress and alcoholism in adolescent mice as well as worked on an MGMT methylation study for patients with glioblastomas at Tufts Medical School.
Mike joined the Ocular Genomics Institute in September of 2018 as a research technologist for Dr. Scott Greenwald.
Dr. Heran Getachew received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences with an emphasis in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Florida in September 2019. Her dissertation work focused on the intracellular survival mechanisms of an oral bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, within cardiovascular cells in the context of atherosclerosis. She joined the Ocular Genomics Institute in November 2019 to study extracellular vesicles as a biomarker for retinal degenerations.Heran_Getachew@meei.harvard.edu
Dr. Rossin is a vitreoretinal surgeon and scientist in Mass Eye and Ear’s Retina Service. She is an Alumni of Harvard Medical School, where she also did her residency and fellowship. In addition to treating medical and surgical patients, she has received the K12 Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Program Award from the National Institutes of Health. Lizzy’s research focuses on disease genetics and methods to interpret the functional impact of mutations. She is currently working on a number of projects including:
– Application of network theory to analysis of protein structure in viral proteins to design mutation-resistant vaccines
– Network analysis of proteins linked to inherited retinal diseases to understand and discover causal variants
– RNA sequencing of patient-derived inflammatory retinal membranes that lead to retinal detachment (collaborator)
As a Texas native, I developed a passion for playing soccer and science growing up. I went on to finish my B.S. in biology from Robert Morris University, along with playing for their NCAA Division 1 soccer program. Upon finishing, my curiosity involving stem cells led me to Louisiana Tech University where I completed both my M.S. and Ph.D. in Molecular Sciences & Nanotechnology. My dissertation was focused on wound healing and tissue regeneration through nanoparticle activation of adipose derived stem cells. My work at MEEI will primarily focus on uncovering the mechanistic action for disease progression of RNA Splicing Factor Retinitis Pigmentosa and potential therapeutic interventionsChris_Miller@meei.harvard.edu
Born and raised in Toronto, I moved to upstate New York to pursue both a degree in exercise science as well as compete in NCAA tennis at Skidmore College. Throughout my time at Skidmore, I also found a passion for the health sciences and decided to pursue a medical education. Upon graduation, I spent the year undertaking genetic ophthalmology research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, which propelled me into my four years of medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. I am excited to continue my work in the field of genetic ophthalmology here at the OGI while I pursue an ophthalmology residency position.KGSanderson@meei.harvard.edu