Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, Tapped to Serve in Key International Leadership Roles

Feb 12, 2021 10:00 AM

Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD
Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD

One of ophthalmology’s most prestigious research societies and other prominent organizations are tapping John A. Moran Eye Center physician-scientist Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, for leadership roles in 2021 as her work continues to earn international recognition.

This year, Hartnett will begin her term as president-elect of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER). The society provides an exchange of ideas on contemporary vision research topics, holds scientific meetings worldwide, publishes Experimental Eye Research, and promotes the development of young scientists.

Hartnett’s National Institutes of Health-funded laboratory investigates the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye in retinal diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss for people 55 and older, and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), the leading cause of childhood blindness.

A vitreoretinal surgeon, Hartnett is one of only a handful of pediatric retina specialists in the United States. Informed by insights from compassionate patient care, Hartnett’s research discoveries are changing ROP and AMD treatment approaches that rely on injectable drugs and laser treatments to inhibit blood vessel growth.

In ROP, Hartnett’s discoveries are allowing doctors to identify a drug dosage that can curb blood vessel growth leading to ROP yet still allow a premature infant’s eyes to develop normally. In AMD, her most recent research has shown one kind of abnormal vessel growth may protect sight if the growth can be compartmentalized. She’s now working to identify a potential new therapy based on the discovery.

“Dr. Harnett’s innovative approaches and development of new research models have changed our understating of diseases impacting our most vulnerable patient populations,” said Moran Eye Center CEO Randall J Olson. “Her work is universally respected, and it is improving treatment for AMD and ROP worldwide. Her continued service in leadership positions stands to greatly advance the field.”

In 2021, Harnett joins the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research Board of Governors. The Foundation funds novel research, education and outreach initiatives of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. This year Hartnett will also serve as an Editorial Advisory Board member for a magazine chronicling developments in the field, Ophthalmology Times.

Hartnett is the Moran Eye Center’s director of Pediatric Retina, holds the Calvin S. and JeNeal N. Hatch Presidential Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Utah.

vision research