Get to Know Albert Jun, MD, PhD — Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology

June 13, 2024 by Elizabeth

Dr. Albert Jun (far right) and family at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca, Spain

Albert S. Jun, MD, PhD, a distinguished academic clinician, educator, and researcher, was appointed as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology on May 6, 2024. Dr. Jun came to UVA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he has served as chief of the Division of Cornea, Cataract, and External Diseases in the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute since 2015. In this leadership role, Dr. Jun played a key role in revolutionizing how corneal transplants are performed, specifically in the development of partial thickness corneal transplants which have become the standard approach over the past 20 years.

As an educator, Dr. Jun has served as a mentor for more than 50 medical students, residents, and faculty members, preparing for a new generation of ophthalmology care. His research has been broad and impactful, resulting in numerous breakthroughs in basic science, the organization of numerous clinical trials, and co-authoring over 100 research papers. An esteemed practitioner of medicine, Dr. Jun earned his medical degree and his PhD in genetics and molecular biology from Emory University.

We recently had a chance to talk with Dr. Jun about why he chose academic medicine, exciting things happening in his field, his goals for the department, and more.

Q. Why did you choose the UVA SOM Department of Ophthalmology?

A. I was pleased to join the UVA Department of Ophthalmology and UVAHealth overall as I came to understand what an exciting time of growth it is for all of us here. My experiences and skills will allow me to contribute to making the department stronger for the health system and for our patients.

Q. Why academic medicine?

A. I continue to be inspired by the tripartite mission of academic medicine, which is to create knowledge through research, apply knowledge through patient care, and share knowledge through teaching. I’ve also been strongly committed to the privilege and responsibility we have as academicians of improving our community and society as universities have long done.

Q. Why did you choose your specialty?

A. I’ve been fascinated by vision since I needed my first pair of glasses as a teenager. As an ophthalmology patient myself, I came to understand at a very personal level how much vision contributes to our quality of life, and I wanted to be in a position to restore or preserve vision and quality of life for others.

Q. What is the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

A. Ophthalmology is at the forefront of the some of the most exciting advances occurring in all of medicine including cell and gene therapy and tissue engineering. In my own field of corneal transplantation, donor cells grown and engineered in a lab likely will replace cadaver corneas as the source of donor tissues which have been used for the past 120 years.

Q. What are some goals you would like to achieve during your time at UVA SOM?

A. I am very excited to help grow the department’s clinical capabilities to have greater impact on patients in the Commonwealth and beyond. It’s also essential to grow research for greater impact on future discovery and developments in our field.

Q. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?

A. My advice to myself, not just one piece, would be to leverage your strengths, improve your weaknesses, never stop learning, and always seek to improve those around you.

Q. How do you spend your time away from work? Hobbies?

A. I enjoy tennis for its mental and physical challenges and opportunities to compete with yourself and others which are part of the game regardless of your skill level. For me, it’s fun to play, watch, and try to improve.


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