Research Faculty

Joelle A. Hallak, MS, PhD

Adjunct Associate Professor of Ophthalmology; Director of Ophthalmic Data Science (ODS) Laboratory; Co-Founder, Artificial Intelligence in Ophthalmology (Ai-O) Center University of Illinois College of MedicineDepartment of Ophthalmology
Mailing Address: Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences University of Illinois at Chicago 1855 W. Taylor Street, M/C 648 Chicago IL 60612
Photo of Joelle A. Hallak MS, PhD

Biographical Info

Adjunct Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
Director, Ophthalmic Data Science Laboratory
Co-Founder, Artificial Intelligence in Ophthalmology (Ai-O) Center


Dr. Hallak is an epidemiologist with expertise in comparative effectiveness research and statistical analysis of complex data. Dr. Hallak’s research interest is the development of methods that combine vast amounts of structured and unstructured data from clinical, genetic and imaging features to develop combinatorial methods in statistical regression, machine and deep learning. Dr. Hallak joined the department in 2016.








BSc with Distinction—University of Balamand, Beirut, Lebanon
MS in Epidemiology—School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago
PhD in Epidemiology—School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

Selected Honors and Awards

2017 – Visiting Scholar, Stanford University
2015 – William Haenszel Memorial Scholarship Award for outstanding research and achievement,
School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago
2012 – Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness Research Grant Award

See a representative list of Dr. Hallak’s published journal articles on PubMed

Recent Publications

Hallak JA, de Sisternes L, Osborne A, Yaspan B, Rubin DL, Leng T. Imaging, Genetic, and Demographic Factors Associated With Conversion to Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019 Jul 1; 37(7):738-744.

Vajaranant T, Hallak J, Espeland MA, Pasquale LR, Klein BE, Meuer SM, Rapp SR, Haan MN, Maki PM. An association between large optic nerve cupping and cognitive function. Am J Ophthalmol. 2019 Jun 1. [Epub ahead of print].

Dikopf MS, Machen LA, Hallak JA, Chau FY, Kassem IS. Zone of retinal vascularization and refractive error in premature eyes with and without spontaneously regressed retinopathy of prematurity. J AAPOS. 2019 Jun 20. pii: S1091-8531(19)30140-5. [Epub ahead of print].

Gao X, Guo K, Santosa SM, Montana M, Yamakawa M, Hallak JA, Han KY, Doh SJ, Rosenblatt MI, Chang JH, Azar DT. Application of corneal injury models in dual fluorescent reporter transgenic mice to understand the roles of the cornea and limbus in angiogenic and lymphangiogenic privilege. Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 23;9(1):12331.

Wang S, Yamakawa M, Santosa SM, Chawla N, Guo K, Montana M, Hallak JA, Han KY, Ema M, Rosenblatt MI, Chang JH, Azar DT. Quantification of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in the dual ex vivo aortic and thoracic duct assay. Protein Pept Lett. 2019 Sep 25.

Hallak JA, Tibrewal S, Jain S. Depressive symptoms in dry eye disease patients: A case-control study using the Beck Depression Index. Cornea. 2015 Dec;34(12):1545-50.

Hallak JA, Tibrewal S, Gao X, Jain S. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the BDNF, VDR, and DNASE1 genes in dry eye disease patients: A case-control study. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Sep;56(10):5990-6.

Cortina MS, Hallak JA. Vision-related quality-of-life assessment using NEI VFQ-25 in patients after Boston keratoprosthesis implantation. Cornea. 2015 Feb;34(2):160-4.

Prickett AL, Bui K, Hallak J, Bakhtiyari P, de la Cruz J, Azar DT, Chamon W. Cyclotorsional and non-cyclotorsional components of eye rotation observed from sitting to supine position. Br J Ophthalmol. 2015;99(1):49-53.

Hallak JA, Jassim S, Khanolkar V, Jain S. Symptom burden of patients with dry eye disease: a four domain analysis. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 13;8(12):e82805.

Tibrewal S, Sarkar J, Jassim SH, Gandhi S, Sonawane S, Chaudhary S, Byun YS, Ivanir Y, Hallak J, Horner JH, Newcomb M, Jain S. Tear fluid extracellular DNA: diagnostic and therapeutic implications in dry eye disease. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Dec 11;54(13):8051-61.

Kapamajian MA, de la Cruz J, Hallak JA, Vajaranant TS. Correlation between corneal and scleral pneumatonometry: An alternative method for intraocular pressure measurement. Am J Ophthalmol. 2013 Nov;156(5):902-906.

Sarkar J, Chaudhary S, Jassim SH, Ozturk O, Chamon W, Ganesh B, Tibrewal S, Gandhi S, Byun YS, Hallak J, Mahmud DL, Mahmud N, Rondelli D, Jain S. CD11b+GR1+ myeloid cells secrete NGF and promote trigeminal ganglion neurite growth: implications for corneal nerve regeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Sep 3;54(9):5920-36.

Chow CC, Shah RJ, Lim JI, Chau FY, Hallak JA, Vajaranant TS. Peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thickness in sickle-cell hemoglobinopathies using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. Am J Ophthalmol. 2013 Mar;155(3):456-464.

Categories: Ophthalmology, Ophthalmology Research Faculty