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Jennifer Sun, M.D., M.P.H., to Be Honored at 11th Annual Taste of Ginger

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Each year, amidst chefs’ tasting booths and silent auction items at the Taste of Ginger event (formerly known as A Spoonful of Ginger), Joslin’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) honors a member of the community who has helped further the mission of awareness about diabetes in Asian communities. The 11th Ginger event, to be held on March 23 at the Museum of Fine Arts will highlight the contributions of Jennifer Sun, M.D., M.P.H., of the Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center.

“Dr. Sun and her husband David have been helping the Asian American community and AADI for many years,” said George King, M.D., Director and Founder of the AADI, and the Chief Scientific Officer of Joslin Diabetes Center.

Both Dr. Sun and David have been active in the Ginger event for years, while also giving support to the AADI’s outreach efforts. In addition, they nominated Dr. King to the Asian American Commission of Massachusetts, which gave the AADI and Joslin a voice in the state government, allowing for an influence in the shape of care and lifestyle improvements for Asian Americans in the community.

In addition to her philanthropy, Dr. Sun’s research into diabetic eye disease has helped to improve the sight and lives of millions of people with diabetes.  Over the last few years, she has been instrumental in helping to design and implement multiple studies through the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network that have changed the standard of care for patients at risk for vision loss from diabetic eye complications. She joined Joslin 9 years ago, pleased to be surrounded by physicians and researchers focused on diabetes, since her father had been living with type 2 diabetes for decades. “For me, there’s a very personal investment in trying to figure out how to deal with diabetic eye complications,” says Dr. Sun.

Over the years, she has worked with Dr. King in the 50-Year Medalist study, in which she studied diabetic eye disease and potential protective factors that have kept participants’ eyes healthy over 50+ years of type 1 diabetes. Another research focus for her involves the use of advanced retinal imaging techniques to more accurately predict risk of vision loss and worsening of vascular disease in the diabetic eye.

Dr. Sun utilizes an innovative new imaging system borrowed from a field far from her own—astronomy. The Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (or AOSLO for short) was inspired by a technique used in building telescopes. Dr. Sun and her colleagues in the Beetham Eye Institute have been able to use ultrahigh resolution AOSLO images from people with diabetes to detect early, sometimes miniscule changes that may herald the worsening of diabetic eye disease. Her team has also shown through studies that disorganization of the layers of the retina on specific types of retinal images is predictive of vision gain or loss. Evaluating this biomarker during treatment of diabetic eye disease may allow doctors in the future to provide even more effective care for patients with diabetes.

Dr. Sun doesn’t live only in the lab. She also sees patients, performs retinal surgeries and administers anti-VEGF treatment, a therapy that has revolutionized the treatment of diabetic macular edema. The unique environment at Joslin allows Dr. Sun to not only advance physicians’ knowledge of diabetic eye complications through clinical research, but to directly interact with patients to help better their lives. “Seeing patients in the clinic gives me a firsthand perspective on how these treatments that we are investigating in clinical studies are going to affect people in their day to day lives,” she says. “It adds a great deal of motivation to my work to know that our research could help save vision for people with diabetes across the globe.”

This year’s Ginger event will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 pm on Monday, March 23 in the Arts of the Americas Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Click here to buy tickets.

Learn more about how you can donate to Joslin Diabetes Center and contribute to the fight against diabetes.

Page last updated: October 16, 2019