Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital is pleased to welcome Dr. Keiko Miyadera to the Ophthalmology Service. Dr. Miyadera brings to Penn Vet a passion for genetic research and vast clinical expertise, which she developed during her residency at Penn Vet. According to Dr. Miyadera, “to be a really good researcher in a specific disease category, you need to be a good clinician.”
From Country to City
Born and raised in Kyushu, one of Japan’s southern islands, Dr. Miyadera considered herself a “country girl,” until she headed to Tokyo to attend high school and university. While at the University of Tokyo, she intended to pursue genetic research. But when she learned that the school had a veterinary program, she thought it might be fun to work with animals, and went on to obtain a degree in veterinary medicine.
From Hemophilia to Blindness
After receiving her DVM, Dr. Miyadera obtained an internship in Tokyo. It was during this time that she got her first dog, Tosca. Sadly, Tosca was a hemophiliac who would bleed sporadically. Dr. Miyadera found herself constantly tracking down transfusions for her beloved dog. She learned from this personal experience the difficulties of owning a dog with a genetic condition. Tosca’s hemophilia further cemented Keiko’s interest in genetic research and led her to seek out a genetic disease to study during her internship.
At the time of Dr. Miyadera’s internship, dachshunds had become very popular in Japan. About a quarter of the dogs coming into the clinic were dachshunds, and a gene mutation was making them blind. Dr. Miyadera began working with an ophthalmologist and taking blood samples from the dogs she saw. In fact, she still has her notebook detailing all of the dachshunds she saw during her internship.
From East to West
Dachshunds are a western breed. The blindness Dr. Miyadera encountered during her internship was initially seen in England; it came to Japan when the breed was imported. By following the disease and its research to England, Dr. Miyadera ended up at the University of Cambridge, where she obtained her PhD. Her research focused on progressive retinal atrophy, and she was able to use the data and samples obtained during her internship.
Dr. Miyadera then came to Penn Vet to pursue post-doctoral research with Dr. Gustavo Aguirre. After a year of genetic research, an opportunity to obtain clinical training in ophthalmology presented itself. Dr. Miyadera jumped at the opportunity. Since completing her residency, Dr. Miyadera says she “can now see the disease from both the clinical angle and the genetic angle.” In her new position, she is able to see patients and pursue her research, and, when possible, bridge the two.