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Jennifer Li appointed chair of Eye Bank Association of America

Association supports cornea transplantation, an increasingly common procedure to restore vision

(SACRAMENTO) Jennifer Li, a professor of ophthalmology and director of the Cornea and External Disease Service at UC Davis Health, has been appointed chair of the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA).

In this prestigious role, Li will work with the EBAA President and CEO to set the association’s strategic direction, provide oversight and manage the Board’s activities and discussions. She was elected in 2020 and spent two years as chair-elect before beginning her term as chair in June. Li is also the medical director for Sierra Donor Services Eye Bank.

“We are extraordinarily proud of Dr. Li who has demonstrated her prodigious talents as a leader and has shepherded the American eye banking system through the challenges of the pandemic,” said Mark J. Mannis, professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science. “We look forward to following her accomplishments as chair of EBAA.”

EBAA is the oldest transplantation association in the U.S. It sets standards, provides education and engages in advocacy to support cornea transplantation, eye donation and research. EBAA leads the transplantation field by establishing medical standards for eye banking and comprehensive training and certification programs for eye bank personnel.

Corneal transplants can restore eyesight

The cornea is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye. It can become damaged from a number of causes, including injuries, infection and multiple surgeries on the eye. When there is severe damage to the cornea, doctors can perform a corneal transplant, replacing the damaged part with healthy corneal tissue from a donor.

Corneal transplants are becoming increasingly more common. More than 49,000 corneal transplants occurred in 2021 in the U.S., according to EBBA, with over 22,000 internationally.

In 2021, Dr. Li was awarded the R. Townley Paton Award as a physician who demonstrates extraordinary support for eye banking — the EBAA’s highest honor for corneal physicians. She delivered her Paton Lecture, “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History: A look at the Progress of Women in Ophthalmology, during the 2022 Cornea and Eye Banking Forum.

Prior to serving as Chair, Li was an active member of the EBAA Board of Directors. She served on committees, including the Medical Advisory Board (Chair), Accreditation Board, Scientific Programs, and the Policy and Position Review subcommittee. She is also a faculty member of the Physician Leadership Program and an active member of the Paton Society.