Deborah Carper, Ph.D., has been appointed to the position of deputy director of the National Eye Institute (NEI). She has served as the NEI acting deputy director since March 2009. She will be the first female deputy director in the NEI’s 40-year history.
During her distinguished 34-year career at NEI, Dr. Carper has published numerous papers on topics including the functional loss of a major beta-crystallin associated with congenital cataract, cloning and sequencing of cDNA for aldose reductase, and translational studies showing that doxycycline and omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce ocular neovascularization. Her translational research work has stimulated a proposed clinical treatment trial for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in infants, a serious condition leading to a lifetime of limited vision.
In addition, Dr. Carper has been an active leader in promoting women in science by serving as the NEI Women Scientist Advisor on a number of NIH Committees. She has participated on several other NIH committees, most recently as a member and NEI representative to the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) Steering Committee. She has also represented NEI in the broader vision science community by serving on advisory committees for the Association for Vision in Research and Ophthalmology (ARVO).
Dr. Carper has played a pivotal role in NEI’s global health portfolio, which will continue to be a critical part of her position as deputy director. She was instrumental in the creation of the Indo-U.S. Joint Working Group and is the NEI representative on the NIH Global Health Research Working Group.
Dr. Carper has been recognized for her research and leadership achievements through many awards, including the Alcon Research Institute Scientific Achievement Award, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Intramural Award and the Rohto Cataract Research Award.
Dr. Carper earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Maryland, College Park. She served as a research technician at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute before coming to NEI in 1976. At NEI, she worked as a biologist and principal investigator in the Laboratory of Vision Research and the Laboratory of Mechanisms of Ocular Diseases (LMOD) before serving as chief of the LMOD Section on Molecular Therapeutics. She also coordinated the Research and Education Training Section of the NEI Division of Intramural Research. She has transitioned from the laboratory bench to a scientific management career over the past eight years, serving as special assistant to the director and most recently as acting deputy director, NEI.
In the role of deputy director, Dr. Carper will continue to participate in evaluating, planning, directing and coordinating all of the Institute’s activities in support of the NEI mission.