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Dr. William Beltran Named Corinne R. and Henry Bower Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine

By: Martin J. Hackett | | 215-898-1475 Date: Nov 9, 2022
Dr. William Beltran

[November 9, 2022; Philadelphia, PA] – Andrew M. Hoffman, DVM, DVSc, DACVIM, Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet) has named William Beltran, DVM, MSc, PhD, DECVO, an internationally recognized veterinary ophthalmologist, the Corinne R. and Henry Bower Professor of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Beltran holds an extraordinary record of scholarly accomplishments. His research program focuses on inherited retinal degeneration, a major cause of blindness in dogs and humans worldwide. Specifically, he has investigated the mechanisms of photoreceptor cell death in X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa, two of the most common forms of inherited retinal degeneration (IRD) in man. Working in canines, who suffer from forms of retinal degeneration that closely mimic the human diseases, he has helped develop effective gene therapies with promising results for treating both early- and late-stage disease. He has received extensive extramural funding including R01, U24, and R21 grants from the NIH’s National Eye Institute, along with foundation and industry support. Beltran’s research has generated six patents involving adeno-associated viral vectors for retinal gene therapies.

“As one of the most high-profile translational scientists in the world, Dr. Beltran’s work is focused on reversing the course of blindness from inherited retinal diseases that widely affect veterinary patients and humans,” said Hoffman. “His longstanding collaboration with Penn Vet Professor Gustavo Aguirre has led to numerous breakthroughs in gene and stem cell-based therapies for eye diseases that involve death of retinal photoreceptor and other cells in the eye.”

Beltran, who is a board-certified Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, earned his veterinary degree at the University of Paris and Veterinary School of Maisons-Alfort, France, his MSc in biological and medical sciences at the University of Paris, and his PhD in comparative biomedical sciences from Cornell University. He joined Penn Vet in 2006 as assistant professor of Ophthalmology. Beltran was appointed associate professor in Ophthalmology in 2012, named director of the Division of Experimental Retinal Therapies in 2017, and appointed professor of Ophthalmology in 2018.

In the last decade, Dr. Beltran has received numerous awards for his work including: the 2019 Inventor of the Year Award from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Innovation; the 2016 Pfizer Ophthalmics Carl Camras Translational Research Award; the 2013 Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors Research Award; and the 2013 ARVO Foundation/Merck Innovative Ophthalmology Research Award. He is a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“Dr. Beltran has published over 80 scientific peer-reviewed manuscripts and he has delivered over 150 national and international lectures and seminars,” said Hoffman. “He reflects the values and dedication that are vital to the mission of Penn Vet, and to our community. His commitment and scholarly leadership are undeniably suited for this illustrious professorship, and I am delighted to have him on our faculty.”

The awarding of a named, endowed professorship is the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and reflects a commitment to scientific discovery, mentorship, and service.

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 34,600 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 6,200 patient visits a year, while our Field Services have gone out on more than 5,500 farm service calls, treating some 18,700 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.