Awards Recognize Long-Standing Leaders in Retina

November 28, 2017

The 2017 American Academy of Ophthalmology Meeting in New Orleans was notable not only for the incredible amount of new data present but also for the AAO awards that were presented. There were two awards that went to individuals that were particular meaningful for the field of ophthalmology were the awards to Daniel F. Martin, MD, and to Irene H. Maumenee, MD.

The 2017 American Academy of Ophthalmology Meeting in New Orleans was notable not only for the incredible amount of new data present but also for the AAO awards that were presented. There were two awards that went to individuals that were particular meaningful for the field of ophthalmology were the awards to Daniel F. Martin, MD, and to Irene H. Maumenee, MD.

Dr. Maumenee received the 2017 Laureate Recognition Award for her contribution to the field of ophthalmic genetics. Her work has focused on rare hereditary ophthalmic disorders and has been extended to more common ophthalmic diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and open angle glaucoma.

One of the ways that she advanced genetic research was to integrate core mathematical principles. She identified the gene responsible for congenital cataracts, helped identify the gene for achromatopsia, and the ocular complications of systemic disorders such as Marfan’s syndrome. Her lasting contribution is that she inspired many others to enter the field of ophthalmic genetics and her work is being propagated each and every day by her fellows and trainees worldwide.

Dr. Martin received the Jackson Memorial Lecture for his contribution to the field of clinical research with particular emphasis on retinal diseases.

Dr. Martin’s lecture, titled “From CMV to CNV,” focused on the massive contribution that he made to diseases like AMD, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and uveitis. His early work focused on the use of gancyclovir for the treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis. He continued his pioneering work in the field of steroid drug delivery, in particular for patients with uveitic disorders.

But probably the contribution with the most clinical impact is his work on the use of bevacizumab for exudative AMD and other retinal disorders dependent on vascular endothelial growth factor. Bevacizumab is now used worldwide and is a cost-effective approach to multiple diseases. Dr. Martin’s pioneering effort has spawned an increasing effort in clinical research and comparative effectiveness research studies across other fields of medicine.

These are true pioneers in ophthalmology and we owe a debt of gratitude to their work in our field.

- Rishi P. Singh, MD