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Akrit Sodhi

AKRIT SODHI, MD, PhD, the inaugural recipient of the Branna and Irving Sisenwein Professorship, has had a distinguished academic career. Following his undergraduate degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles, he earned his MD and PhD degrees from the University of California, Davis in 2004. His PhD research on Kaposi’s Sarcoma, which combined molecular genetics with innovative animal models, resulted in publications in the most prestigious biomedical and cancer research journals and have influenced how clinicians now treat patients with this enigmatic vascular tumor. Dr. Sodhi then joined the ophthalmology residency program at the Wilmer Eye Institute, where he subsequently completed a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery. He also served as assistant chief of service (chief resident), a position held by many past and present leaders in American ophthalmology. Dr. Sodhi was named Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2010, and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in 2017.

Dr. Sodhi’s research program has focused on the role of the transcription factor hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) in ocular disease. HIF regulates the expression of the genes that cause vision loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, retinal vein occlusion, sickle cell retinopathy, and retinopathy of prematurity, the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. Dr. Sodhi’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Research to Prevent Blindness, and the Beckman Initiative for Macular Research and has produced nearly 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles and numerous additional book chapters, editorials, and reviews. His research has been published in the most prestigious scientific journals and has led to substantial advances in our understanding of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease. Dr. Sodhi, in collaboration with Dr. Gregg L. Semenza, who discovered HIF, and Dr. Jordan Green, an expert in drug delivery, is now focused on translating the discoveries they have made at the bench to the patients he treats in the clinic. Together, they have founded the company, HIF Therapeutics, which will develop novel therapies targeting HIF for the treatment of patients with ocular neovascular disease and cancer.

Dr. Sodhi has received many honors and awards, including the RPB Career Development Award, the American Society for Clinical Investigation’s Young Physician-Scientist Award, the RPB Special Scholar Award, and the Alcon Research Institute Young Investigator Award. Recognition of Dr. Sodhi’s expertise in ocular disease extends beyond the vision science community; he currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the leading translational research journal. Dr. Sodhi has been invited as visiting professor at ophthalmology departments across the United States, and he has given numerous lectures internationally at universities and conferences in Asia and Europe.

The foundation for Dr. Sodhi’s research program has been built upon fruitful collaborations with colleagues with diverse and complementary expertise. Dr. Sodhi is thankful for the generous contributions of his many research and clinical colleagues at Johns Hopkins and the Wilmer Eye Institute.