Ophthalmology gear in an eye clinic
By Michael Haederle

Visionary Appointment

Dr. James Chodosh Named Inaugural Chair of UNM Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

James Chodosh, MD, MPAJames Chodosh, MD, MPH, the Edith Ives Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, has been named the inaugural chair of The University of New Mexico Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences.

Chodosh currently serves as associate director for the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a Harvard-affiliated hospital. He also directs Boston Keratoprosthesis Programs, serves as vice chair for Ophthalmology education at Harvard Medical School and is associate chief of Ophthalmology Education at Mass Eye and Ear.

Chodosh will be the first permanent chair of the UNM department since it was created in July 2020. Robert Avery, MD, PhD, has been serving as interim chair.


Michael Richards, MD, MPA
Jim Chodosh has a phenomenal background as both a clinician, educator and researcher, and I expect he will make an enormous contribution to our department. This will be a chance to start a brand-new residency program, create a research portfolio and grow clinical services
Michael E. Richards, MD, MPA

“Jim Chodosh has a phenomenal background as both a clinician, educator and researcher, and I expect he will make an enormous contribution to our department,” said Michael E. Richards, MD, MPA, interim dean of the UNM School of Medicine and senior vice president for clinical affairs. “This will be a chance to start a brand-new residency program, create a research portfolio and grow clinical services.”

Richards praised Avery for his work as interim chair. “The department has benefited from Bob Avery’s incredible leadership while we conducted a national search for a permanent chair. We’re grateful for his service.”

Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, executive vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System, echoed Richards' praise for Dr. Avery’s leadership, “Bob has made a great impact on strengthening the department and enhancing partnerships with other departments and the Health System," he said.

Chodosh, who will assume his new responsibilities Sept. 1, said he was looking forward to his new post.

“I am thrilled and excited beyond words for this unique opportunity to serve New Mexicans,” he said. “I see this as a chance to perform service in an environment where I can be effective. The values of The University of New Mexico align completely with my own.”

Chodosh is married to Jaya Rajaiya, PhD, a virologist and microbiologist, who will be joining the UNM Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology as associate professor, under the leadership of department chair Vojo Deretic PhD.

Chodosh attended medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he also completed his residency. He served his fellowship in Corneal and External Diseases and Surgery at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Earlier in his career he was a faculty member at the University of Tennessee and the University of Oklahoma.

At Harvard, he also serves serves his department as director of Diversity and Inclusion. “I’m committed to improving the quality of life for every person with vision loss, particularly those who might be otherwise underserved,” he said. “I’m also passionate about growing diversity, equity and inclusion in the profession of Ophthalmology and in health care systems at large.”

He is also associate director of the Infectious Disease Institute and director of the Ocular Burn Service. His clinical interests include ocular infections, chemical burns, Stevens Johnson syndrome and keratoprosthesis surgery – a procedure for implanting an artificial cornea.

He has performed and  taught keratoprosthesis surgery in India, Italy, England, Israel, Vietnam and Chile and also invented and patented a new, low-cost keratoprosthesis – the “Lucia” – to address corneal blindness in low-resource countries.

As a researcher, Chodosh has studied molecular virology, viral genomics and viral pathogenesis in eye diseases, focusing on prevention and treatment of vision loss due to corneal infection, inflammation and scarring. He is also a member of the PhD Program in Virology at Harvard Medical School.

"Jim is an outstanding researcher who will bring a world class research experience and team to UNM," Ziedonis said. "We are very fortunate to have his experience at mentoring students and faculty.”

Chodosh has previously served as chair of the National Institutes of Health Anterior Eye Disease Study Section, on the NIH National Advisory Eye Council, and he is currently chair of the FDA Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee. He has also published more than 360 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and was co-editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.


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