Principal Investigator

Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM

Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM is Professor of Ophthalmology in the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine (UMMS). She is also the Director of Retina and Director of the Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UMMS. Dr. Seddon is a world-renowned retina specialist and genetic epidemiologist. She has an MD degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed Harvard fellowships in Ophthalmic Pathology and Vitreo-Retinal Diseases, and she founded Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Genetics Services at two institutions in Boston, at Harvard and Tufts. Dr. Seddon specializes in the evaluation and treatment of patients with retinal dystrophies and degenerations, including macular degeneration, Stargardt Disease, Best Disease, high myopia as well as other macular disorders. She also evaluates individuals with a family history of these disorders. Dr. Seddon pioneered the studies of the etiology and prevention of macular degeneration. She is recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking research on lifestyle factors (smoking, body mass index, abdominal adiposity, exercise), nutrition (first reports of the beneficial impact of dietary lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids) and the associations of these modifiable factors with retinal disease. These results have changed the management of macular degeneration world-wide.

Dr. Seddon and her research team have also made novel discoveries regarding genetic, biologic, and genetic-environmental biomarkers associated with both onset and progression of macular degeneration. Breakthroughs in the Seddon Laboratory include the discovery of  several of the known genes associated with macular degeneration, including the discovery of the first rare genetic variants with high impact on the disease. These variants can lead to high risk of disease in families and are now targets for new treatments which are currently being developed. She has also shown that eating a healthy diet can help modify genetic susceptibility for the disease for some patients. She co-authored a book “Eat Right for Your Sight”, based on scientific studies of the impact of nutrition on eye disease, which is available on amazon.com. Dr. Seddon and her team initiated and developed predictive models which combine genes and lifestyle factors to estimate the probability of progressing from intermediate to advanced types of macular degeneration and visual loss. These models are being used in clinical research studies, and are useful for precision and personalized medicine. Visit www.seddonamdriskscore.org.

Dr. Seddon is a prolific clinician-scientist and has published over 250 articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters and reviews. She has received numerous awards  including the Mildred Weisenfeld Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) for Excellence in Ophthalmology, the inaugural ARVO Gold Fellow Award, inaugural member of the Retina Hall of Fame, the Lucien Howe Medal Award, Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the Women in Ophthalmology Honor and Mentoring Awards, the Kreissig Award from the European Retina, Macular and Vitreous Society, the 2018 American Academy of Ophthalmology Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2019 Future Vision Award.