About John Kempen, MD, PhD, MPH

Dr. John Kempen is well-known nationally and internationally as an expert in ocular inflammatory diseases—such as uveitis, scleritis, and others—as well as ocular complications of AIDS. He is also engaged in international research in India and Ethiopia regarding ophthalmic epidemiology and trachoma research.

Dr. Kempen is Co-Founder and President of Sight for Souls, a US 501(c)(3) charity developing self-sustaining, tertiary eye institutes in developing countries as a strategy to address global blindness through self-sustaining service delivery, public health outreach, training and research. Approximately 80% of global blindness and low vision requires individual-level clinical care, which is directly addressed by this strategy.

Dr. Kempen has doctoral training in epidemiology, and masters-level training in biostatistics and public health.  He has completed research fellowships in clinical trials and in preventive ophthalmology.  He is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and a member of the American Uveitis Society, the International Uveitis Study Group, the Society for Clinical Trials, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.  He was appointed by President Bush to serve as a member of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council (2004-2008), and has approximately 150 publications in the leading journals of his specialty. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Ophthalmic Epidemiology.

Departments, Centers, & Programs:

Clinical Interests:



Mass Eye and Ear
243 Charles St.
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-523-7900

Medical Education

  • MD, UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • Residency, University of Washington Medical Center
  • Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University
  • Fellowship, Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins
  • Fellowship, Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins

American Board Certifications

  • Ophthalmology, American Board of Ophthalmology


An internationally renowned academic ophthalmologist and researcher specializing in inflammatory disorders of the eye (a specialty which is unrepresented in sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa), Dr. Kempen’s research focuses on the safety and effectiveness of treatments for ocular inflammatory diseases and ocular infectious diseases, particularly those related to HIV/AIDS. He also is active in identifying factors predictive of unfavorable outcomes of these diseases, which might be modifiable to avoid bad outcomes, or might alter current clinical management of these patients. Major topics of interest include evaluation of the long-term risks of immunosuppressive therapy, comparison of alternative treatment paradigms for the treatment of uveitis, development of new treatments for non-infectious scleritis, trachoma, management of cataract in developing countries, solutions for the problem of uncorrected refractive error in developing countries, and management of patients with AIDS and cytomegalovirus retinitis.


  • Agrawal R, Testi I, Mahajan S, Yuen YS, Agarwal A, Kon OM, Barisani-Asenbauer T, Kempen JH, Gupta A, Jabs DA, Smith JR, Nguyen QD, Pavesio C, Gupta V. Collaborative Ocular Tuberculosis Study Consensus Guidelines on the Management of Tubercular Uveitis-Report 1: Guidelines for Initiating Antitubercular Therapy in Tubercular Choroiditis. Ophthalmology. 2020 Jan 11.

    Pistilli M, Joffe MM, Gangaputra SS, Pujari SS, Jabs DA, Levy-Clarke GA, Nussenblatt RB, Rosenbaum JT, Sen HN, Suhler EB, Thorne JE, Bhatt NP, Foster CS, Begum H, Fitzgerald TD, Dreger KA, Altaweel MM, Holbrook JT, Kempen JH. Visual Acuity Outcome over Time in Non-Infectious Uveitis. Ocul Immunol Inflamm. 2019 Dec 10; 1-8.

    Sobrin L, Pistilli M, Dreger K, Kothari S, Khachatryan N, Artornsombudh P, Pujari SS, Foster CS, Jabs DA, Nussenblatt RB, Rosenbaum JT, Levy-Clarke GA, Sen HN, Suhler EB, Thorne JE, Bhatt NP, Kempen JH. Factors Predictive of Remission of Chronic Anterior Uveitis. Ophthalmology. 2019 Nov 28. 

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