CHA Hollywood Presbyterian

Founding director, Southern California Eye Institute

Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, is the founding director of Southern California Eye Institute (SCEI), located at the CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a nationally recognized acute care facility providing compassionate support for Hollywood and its surrounding diverse communities since 1924. This institute of excellence for eyecare will bring much needed specialized and complex eye care to underserved communities in Southern California. In addition, the institute’s mission will include continued vision research in diverse communities and vulnerable populations, use of dig data and artificial intelligence and developing novel therapies, including stem cell and regenerative therapies both in the U.S. and overseas.

Prior to founding SCEI, Varma was professor of ophthalmology and preventive medicine and the Grace and Emery Beardsley Chair in Ophthalmology at Keck School of Medicine of USC. Previously he served as dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and president and chairman of the Board of Directors of USC Care. He was also chair of the USC Department of Ophthalmology and founding director of the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute and served as associate dean for strategic planning and community network development.

An accomplished world-renowned physician-scientist, Varma is recognized as a visionary leader in glaucoma and the epidemiology of eye diseases. He is an expert on changes in the optic nerve in glaucoma and is also studying new imaging techniques in the early diagnosis of glaucomatous optic nerve damage. His primary research focuses on epidemiologic studies of eye disease in children and aging populations. He is principal investigator of several National Institute of Health-funded studies, including the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study, the Chinese American Eye Study, the Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Diseases Study and the African American Eye Disease Study. His epidemiological studies have significantly impacted health care policy and have allowed for a deeper understanding of how disease affects different populations. He also served as principal investigator for studies on blindness and vision impairment for the World Health Organization. Most recently, Varma has been involved in the use of large databases and artificial intelligence in the detection and monitoring of disease and the development of novel implantable intraocular pressure sensors and drainage devices.

Varma is one of the highest National Institutes of Health-funded vision investigators, with continuous funding for more than two decades, demonstrating the importance, relevance and impact of his work.