(Dr. Varma is currently at the University of Southern California)

 September 28, 2012

Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, Department Chair

Rohit Varma MD, MPH has been appointed Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Associate Dean for Strategic Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine effective October 8, 2012 pending approval of the University Board of Trustees.  According to Dr. Dimitri Azar, Dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Dr. Varma is a highly accomplished physician-scientist and translational investigator who has dedicated his career to studying the development of eye diseases in minority populations and to examining novel biological, genetic and lifestyle factors related to the risk of developing eye diseases.

Dr. Varma is currently a tenured Professor of Ophthalmology and Preventive Medicine, and Director of the Glaucoma Service, Ocular Epidemiology Center and the Clinical Trials Unit at the Doheny Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He completed his ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and two glaucoma fellowships, one at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, and the other at the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California.  Dr. Varma also obtained a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.

“I am truly honored to be appointed Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Associate Dean for Strategic Planning  at the University of Illinois College of Medicine,” stated Dr. Varma.  “The reputation and history of the Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary are a strong foundation upon which to build a future that will set the standard for innovation and excellence in ophthalmic care, education and vision science research.  I want to thank the Department of Ophthalmology faculty, the Search Committee, Dean Azar and Dr. Garcia for entrusting me with this privilege. I am looking forward to coming to Chicago and becoming a member of the UIC COM team.”

Dr. Varma’s primary research focus is on epidemiologic studies of eye disease in minority children and adults.  He is the principal investigator on three large NIH-Funded community based studies: The Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES), the Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Diseases (MEPEDS) Study, and the Chinese American Eye Study.  Dr. Varma is also principal investigator on studies funded by the World Health Organization assessing the prevalence and socioeconomic burden of near vision impairment. He is an expert on changes in the optic nerve in glaucoma and on new imaging techniques in the early diagnosis of glaucomatous optic nerve damage. More recently, Dr. Varma has been involved in the development of novel implantable intraocular pressure sensors and drainage devices.

Dr. Varma has published more than 190 papers in peer-reviewed journals, edited two books and presented more than 200 abstracts at national and international academic meetings. He serves on the Editorial Board of Ophthalmology, the Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Previously Dr. Varma has served as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Eye Institute, the National Eye Health Education Program Planning Committee, and the NIH Anterior Eye Diseases Study Section. He has received multiple honors and awards including the Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development and Sybil B. Harrington Scholar awards, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Senior Achievement Award, the Glaucoma Research Foundation President’s Award, and the ARVO Fellow Silver Award. Dr. Varma is also a member of several ophthalmological national and international organizations and currently serves as the Chair of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Public Health Committee.

“My thanks go to Dr. Joel Sugar for his outstanding leadership of the department during this transition period, and special thanks are owed to the search committee, chaired by Dr. Larry Tobacman, for their dedication and outstanding work during the selection process,” said Dr. Azar.  “The members worked tirelessly to conduct this national search and ensure the successful recruitment of this critical strategic hire.

“I am confident that Dr. Varma will lead our Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences into a new era of clinical and research excellence,” he added.