Five Questions for Jella An, M.D., M.B.A.

Jella An joined the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine in September 2021 as an associate professor of ophthalmology and the medical director of the institute’s Bethesda office. She is also the vice chair of the Wilmer Clinical Practice Network. An primarily treats adult patients diagnosed with cataracts or glaucoma, and she specializes in microinvasive glaucoma surgery as well as simple and complex types of cataract surgery. She sees patients at Wilmer’s East Baltimore and Bethesda locations.

What attracted you to the field of ophthalmology?

I love how restoring vision can dramatically improve the quality of life of patients. I also love that it is a fast changing and growing field, which makes it challenging and exciting, with so many research opportunities. Intraocular surgery is also elegant and fun to do. Mark Twain once said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” which perfectly sums up how I think about being an ophthalmologist.

What drew you to Wilmer?

I wanted to work with and learn from the many great minds and giants of the field here at Wilmer. I wanted a new challenge and growth opportunity to realize my highest potential.

What are you working on right now and how will it contribute to the advancement of ophthalmology?

I have worked on using a novel combination of an anti-fibrotic drug and gene therapy to improve surgical outcomes after glaucoma filtering surgery. The results of this project helped advance our understanding of postoperative wound healing of the eye, as well as clinical challenges faced by ophthalmic surgeons and patients following glaucoma filtering surgery.

My current clinical research focuses on evaluating comparative and predictive outcomes of various types of microinvasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) and the development of novel glaucoma devices. Given the relative novelty of this area, published data and the understanding of the long-term efficacy and safety of various MIGS procedures are limited. My research goal is to lead large-scale clinical trials to address this void and develop safer and more effective treatment options for patients with glaucoma.

Where do you see opportunities for advancement or innovation in your specialty?

I believe collaboration with ophthalmic industry partners can open doors to tremendous opportunities for advancement and innovation in our specialty. Establishing common goals and boundaries while tapping into the synergistic partnership is the key. My long-term goal is to help to further establish Wilmer as a clinical trial center, leading many large-scale and quality clinical trials with the goal of developing more effective and safer treatment options for patients.

Is there anything else you’d like others to know about you or your work?

I believe in the power of mentorship for accelerated success and growth, and I strive to be a guide and support for anyone in need. I enjoy teaching and mentoring medical students, residents and fellows in clinical and research endeavors. I also enjoy traveling and am always up for learning and trying new things!