Rising Professorships

Investing in the next generation of clinician-scientists is of paramount importance at the Wilmer Eye Institute. To that end, rising professorships were created at Wilmer in 2021 to provide financial support for assistant professors who are establishing their laboratories and clinics in academic medicine.

A rising professorship is an opportunity for our best and brightest to get their research programs up-to-speed years sooner than would happen through the traditional standard pathway.

Wilmer director Peter J. McDonnell, M.D
Peter McDonnell stands in front of the Wilmer Eye Institute Smith building

Equivalent to Wilmer’s traditional professorships for senior faculty members, rising professorships equip our young investigators with extraordinary resources at the beginning of their careers, such as protected research time, private funding support and mentorship opportunities. This adds years of productivity to the careers of these young researchers, whose work will benefit patients today and into the future.

Rising Professors

Cindy Cai, M.D.

Jonathan and Marcia Javitt Rising Professor of Ophthalmology

Cindy Cai

Jefferson James Doyle, M.B.B.Ch., M.D., Ph.D., M.H.S.

Andreas C. Dracopoulos and Daniel Finkelstein M.D. Rising Professor of Ophthalmology

Jefferson James Doyle

Thomas V. Johnson III M.D.,Ph.D

Shelley and Allan Holt Rising Professor of Opthalmology

Thomas V. Johnson III

Fatemeh Rajaii M.D., Ph.D.

Odd Fellows Rising Professor of Opththalmology

Fatemeh Rajaii

Mira Sachdeva M.D., Ph.D.

Wilmer Rising Professor of Ophthalmology

Mira Sachdeva

Nakul Shekhawat, M.D., M.P.H.

Stephen F Raab and Mariellen Brickley-Raab Rising Professor of Ophthalmology

Nakul Shekhawat

Featured Articles

Learn about our rising professors and their research.
  • Accelerating the Careers of Wilmer's Rising Leaders

    Cai is focused on how social determinants of health, like lack of insurance and transportation, lead patients with diabetes to have lapses in their ophthalmology care, which decreases the likelihood of prompt intervention and can lead to poor outcomes.

    Cindy Cai
  • What the Future Holds

    Johnson leads a translational neuroscience laboratory that focuses on stem cell transplantation to regenerate damaged optic nerves. This has the potential to someday restore vision damaged by conditions like eye stroke, or diseases like glaucoma.

    Thomas Johnson
  • Solving the Mystery of Thyroid Eye Disease

    Rajaii’s work focuses on understanding thyroid eye disease, specifically how orbital fibroblasts, the target cells in the pathology of thyroid eye disease, differentiate to become fat cells, which causes the expansion of the tissues behind the eye?

    Fatemeh Rajaii
  • Exploring the Origins of Diabetic Retinopathy

    Sachdeva is researching risks for diabetic retinopathy, why some patients develop different severities of disease, and how changes in the retina can be addressed earlier so it’s possible to prevent progression — or even reverse it if discovered in time.

    Mira Sachdeva

If we don’t implement formal mechanisms to support the most promising junior faculty members, our academic future will be far less rich than our academic past. The key objective of the rising professorship program is to build resources within Wilmer to continue Wilmer’s global leadership for at least another century.

Jonathan Javitt, M.D., M.P.H., Wilmer adjunct faculty member and benefactor of the Jonathan and Marcia Javitt Rising Professorship at Wilmer
Jonathan Javitt