The American Academy of Ophthalmology is honoring ophthalmologists who have improved eye care for millions worldwide through their commitment to their patients and their profession. The honorees will be recognized during AAO 2019, the 123rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The most prestigious of these honors is the Laureate Recognition Award. It is awarded to an individual who has made exceptional scientific contributions to the betterment of eye care, leading to the prevention of blindness and restoration of sight worldwide.
Marilyn T. Miller, MD, is this year’s awardee. Dr. Miller is a pediatric ophthalmologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital eye diseases and strabismus. She has added to our understanding of conditions, such as Duane syndrome, Mobius syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and the mysteries of the Zika virus. Dr. Miller is especially well known for her work in international ophthalmology. She has cared for thousands of patients around the world, particularly in Nigeria, where the Marilyn Miller Centre for Children’s Eye Health and Genetics was established in her honor. As a professor at the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology, she has touched countless students as a lifelong mentor.
“When Dr. Miller speaks, everyone listens,” David W. Parke II, MD, CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said in a news release. “Her career is forever guided by the patient, advancing science and understanding, fostering collaboration, and the greater good.”
Other awards presented during AAO 2019 include:
The Distinguished Service Award honors an individual or organization for ongoing notable service to ophthalmology and the Academy. This year’s award goes to the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO). The Academy recognizes APAO for its decades of success as the international organization in the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to more than half of the world’s population. In 2011, the APAO furthered its reach by launching the Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology to serve the ophthalmology community in the region and beyond. The journal covers 16 subspecialties and all articles are open access. Since 1960, APAO has fostered closer relations among ophthalmologists and ophthalmology societies in the Asia-Pacific region in order to combat blindness.
The Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award recognizes ophthalmologists whose contributions to charitable activities demonstrate their concern and care for needy populations. This year’s awardees are Graham E. Quinn, MD, and David F. Chang, MD.
- Dr. Quinn has improved care for infants with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), the leading cause of preventable blindness in premature infants worldwide. He has worked with ophthalmologists and pediatricians in Asia, Africa and South America to develop standards for patient care and physician training.
- Dr. Chang has been working to end cataract blindness around the world by expanding surgical training in underserved countries, including Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Haiti and China. As chairman of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Foundation’s International division, Dr. Chang established many collaborative efforts to reduce cataract blindness, including the website Globalsight.org. It’s an online forum that connects non-government agencies, clinical researchers, ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals, working to end cataract blindness.
The International Blindness Prevention Award is given to an ophthalmologist who has made significant contributions to restoring sight throughout the world. This year’s winner is Richard L. Abbott, MD. Dr. Abbott has traveled the globe, helping to develop clinical guidelines to improve patient care.
The Outstanding Advocate Award recognizes ophthalmologists who participate in advocacy-related efforts at the state or federal level. This year’s award goes to Ralph C. Lanciano Jr., DO, for advocacy efforts that span decades at both the state and federal levels. The ultimate strategist, Dr. Lanciano immerses himself in every stage of advocacy planning to achieve the best outcome. He has taught these valuable advocacy skills to young ophthalmologists. He collaborated with the Academy’s Secretariat for State Affairs on the development and implementation of the Residents’ Advocacy Program (RAP) to engage and empower ophthalmology residents to advocate for their profession and patients.
The Straatsma Award acknowledges excellence in resident education and is given jointly by the Academy and Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology to a program director dedicated to the principles and significance of residency education. This year’s recipient is Susan Culican, MD, Ph.D. During her 15 years as residency program director for the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, she has worked tirelessly to improve the overall quality of the program, while also assessing individual trainee’s needs.
The Artemis Award recognizes a young ophthalmologist Academy member who has demonstrated caring and service of an exemplary degree to their patients. This year’s recipient is Marcus Ang, MBBS, Ph.D. Dr. Ang founded a nonprofit, Global Clinic Ltd., to provide free eye care and surgery for people in developing countries throughout Asia. He also started the Mobile Eye Clinic Project, under the auspices of the Singapore Society of Ophthalmology, to bring free eyecare to the elderly in underprivileged communities in Singapore. When it began in 2013, Dr. Ang went door-to-door examining residents with portable equipment. Today, more than 5,000 people have benefited from the mobile clinic. These patients receive free eye care and, if necessary, cataract surgery or other basic procedures, such as laser treatment or injections.
The Special Recognition Award is given to an individual or organization for outstanding service in a specific effort or cause that improves the quality of eye care. This year’s recipient is William L. Rich III, MD. There is likely no ophthalmologist who has had a greater impact on our members’ Medicare revenue than Dr. Rich. He twice advanced an initiative to update practice expenses that resulted in a significant improvement in ophthalmology payments. He is a national leader in quality and outcomes measurement. One of his most significant achievements was chairing a task force that outlined the rationale and requirements for developing a clinical data registry. This work served as the foundation for the IRIS Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight). Today, it’s the largest clinical specialty database in the world. The IRIS Registry currently includes clinical information from more than 15,000 physicians, 252 million patient visits, representing more than 60 million unique patients.
Every year, the Academy president has the privilege of selecting guests of honor, chosen for their contributions to the field of ophthalmology and the Academy. This year, Academy President George A. Williams, MD is honoring:
- Mark Blumenkranz, MD. Dr. Blumenkranz has served as president of the American University Professors of Ophthalmology, president of the Retina Society and president of the Macula Society. He is a member of the steering committee of the Audacious Goals Initiative of the National Eye Institute. Dr. Blumenkranz also holds 18 patents and has founded or co-founded multiple companies. He has pioneered groundbreaking laser systems, novel drug delivery platforms, retinal pharmaceuticals, ocular gene therapy, and medical data analytics. Dr. Williams says, “he makes everyone he works with better.”
- Kirk H. Packo, MD. Dr. Packo’s professional leadership is legendary. As president of the Vitreous Society, 2001-02, he helped transition the organization into the American Society of Retina Specialists, now the largest retinal organization in the world. One of Dr. Packo ’s great passions are fellow and resident education. As chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Rush Medical College, he has directly trained dozens of residents and fellows plus thousands of others through his national and international presentations. His lectures emphasize not only the science, but the humanity of medicine.
- Michael T. Trese, MD. Trese is the father of modern pediatric vitreoretinal surgery. He revolutionized pediatric vitreoretinal surgery with the concept of lens-sparing vitrectomy. He also transformed the screening of babies for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). He developed FocusROP. It’s a telemedicine system to help physicians better identify ROP, combining screening, image analysis and case management. FocusROP is used throughout the world.
The Academy recognizes distinguished donors who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to ophthalmology by contributing a $1 million or more to the Academy Foundation.
- Stanley M. Truhlsen, MD, is emeritus professor and former chairman of UNMC’s department of ophthalmology and has been nationally recognized in the field of ophthalmology. He is past president of the College of Medicine’s Alumni Association and served as president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 1983 and the American Ophthalmological Society (AOS) in 1996. During Dr. Truhlsen’s tenure as president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, he participated in the Academy’s launch of the National Eye Care Program. This effort brought together 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists nationwide who provided, at no cost, care for the elderly in need. Dr. Truhlsen has served a long and illustrious career both as a physician and a philanthropist. He is dedicated and continues to contribute to the field of ophthalmology.
- Michael F. Marmor, MD, is a professor and former chair of Ophthalmology at Stanford University, and a member of Bio-X, Stanford University’s bioscience institute. He currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Museum of Vision Program Committee and is a member of the Cogan Ophthalmic History Society. Dr. Marmor has chaired the museum’s history symposia and presented numerous lectures at the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s annual meeting. Dr. Marmor and his wife Jane B. Marmor, established the Michael F. Marmor, MD Lecture of Ophthalmology and the Arts. This lecture, which is delivered every year at the Annual Meeting, provides an interdisciplinary educational presentation that examines the role and relevance of the arts and history to the nature, practice, and impact of ophthalmology.
- The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, incorporated in 1956, is a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. The Foundation seeks to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care to those in need.
“The work of these dedicated ophthalmologists is simply inspiring,” said George A. Williams, MD, Academy president. “They have advanced our profession and improved the lives of millions across the globe.”
For full awards descriptions, recipient biographies and information about additional awards presented to Academy members at AAO 2019, please visit www.aao.org/awards. The Academy’s annual meeting takes place Oct. 12 – 15, 2019, Moscone Center, San Francisco. It is the largest ophthalmology conference in the world.