Jessica Shantha, MD

Assistant Professor

Section of Vitreoretinal Surgery and Diseases

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Dr. Shantha joined Emory Eye Center’s faculty in September 2017. Drs. Robert Breiman and Steven Yeh serve as Jessica's mentors.  Jessica graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia. She earned her medical degree, summa cum laude, from Morehouse School of Medicine, then completed a transitional year program at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, and an ophthalmology residency at Emory. She followed residency with a clinical and research fellowship in medical retina disease at Retina Consultants of Hawaii. In addition, she spent a year as the Heed Ophthalmic Foundation clinical uveitis fellow with the Francis I. Proctor Foundation.

During her residency at Emory, Dr. Shantha became involved with research related to how Ebola virus disease can affect survivors’ vision and the eye itself. She has published on the topic in scientific journals such as OphthalmologyCurrent Opinions in Ophthalmology, and the New England Journal of Medicine and continues to be involved in on-going efforts in West Africa. 

Jessica is continuing to explore her academic and clinical interests that include infectious and non-infectious uveitis, emerging pathogen discovery, and addressing clinical and research gaps within uveitis and retinal disease in international health care settings.  

National Recognition 

Dr. Shantha holds memberships in the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Uveitis Society, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. She also is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

BIRCWH Research

Dr. Shantha's research will document and determine the pathogenesis of ophthalmic sequalae of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in survivors, paying particular attention to the role of viral persistence in eye fluid.  She initially became interested in Ebola virus after caring for a survivor that developed Ebola virus persistence in his ocular fluid during disease convalescence that contributed to the development of uveitis.  This one discovery has led to many projects including evaluating a cohort of survivors in Liberia and participating in screening of patients in Sierra Leone.  Her team is currently evaluating Ebola virus persistence in patients whom require cataract surgery (EVICT study), to ensure safe surgeries for health care workers and patients.    

Jessica worked from 2015-2017 in West Africa, the magnitude of the challenges of treating uveitis and ocular inflammation due to resource requirements and disease complexity become apparent. Her career goal is to impact the blinding consequences of unrecognized or untreated uveitis in resource-limited settings.   

The Emory BIRCWH program is an opportunity to further her training in designing and implementing an epidemiological study, laboratory diagnostics on ocular fluid, advancing her skills in biostatistics, and mentorship with a multidisciplinary team.  More importantly, the BIRCWH program would give her the ability to improve her understanding of the ocular manifestations in EVD survivors and the role Ebola virus persistence plays in the pathogenesis of ocular manifestations.  The BIRCWH program will also allow her to define the level of vision impairment and ophthalmic phenotypes in female Ebola survivors.  These observations will provide additional information on the overall quality-of-life impact of ophthalmic sequelae for women during EVD convalescence. This proposal will help define guidelines in West Africa for clinical care now and in future outbreaks.