ASRS sets sights on Windy City for conference


Annual meeting schedule to include presentations, live surgery, awards

The 2019 American Society of Retinal Specialists (ASRS) annual meeting is dedicating an entire session to honoring current and future leaders in the retina community.

The event will be held July 26-30 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, offering a forum on the latest developments in retina.

On Sunday, ASRS will recognize leaders whose dedication and outstanding contributions have helped evolve the field and improve patient care.

Carl C. Awh, MD, and John S. Pollack, MD, will serve as moderators for the session. Several awards will be given out. These include:

The Pyron Award
The Retina Research Foundation (RRF) will present its Gertrude D. Pyron Award to Joan M. O’Brien, MD, chairperson of the department of Ophthalmology, director of the Scheie Eye Institute, and William F. Norris and George E. de Schweinitz Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She will speak on “Genetics of Retinal Disease.”

In addition to her duties as a chairman and ocular oncologist, Dr. O’Brien serves as the principal investigator of a five-year, $11.25 million R01 glaucoma genetics study on African Americans that has enrolled more than 10,000 patients in Philadelphia and has the potential to provide more targeted screenings and treatments for this disease.

Dr. O’Brien’s research on ocular genetics has advanced diagnostic and treatment options for several diseases. Working with Boris Bastian’s lab at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), Dr. O’Brien discovered and characterized two novel oncogenes in uveal melanoma, GNAQ and GNA11, which were published in Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine. This discovery allowed for personalized, targeted therapy for patients with uveal melanoma, improving their quality of life.

Dr. O’Brien also identified numerous unique pathogenic variants in the retinoblastoma gene (RB1). This testing, which allowed retinoblastoma therapy to be directed according to underlying genetic risk, is now offered nationwide at no charge through the National Eye Institute’s (NEI’s) eyeGENE initiative.

The Pyron Award is endowed by an estate gift from Gertrude D. Pyron, an imminent geologist during her lifetime, who bequest to the Retina Research Foundation (RRF) out of admiration for Alice McPherson, MD’s leadership in vision science. The RRF was founded by Dr. McPherson, an ASRS member, in 1969 to establish and fund programs for the eradication of vitreoretinal disease.

Dr. O’Brien will receive a $30,000 cash prize, including a $5,000 personal honorarium and a $25,000 research grant.

Founders Award
The ASRS Founders Award recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of vitreoretinal surgery, treatment, research, surgical instrumentation, and patient care.

This year’s recipient, Lawrence A. Yannuzzi, MD, will speak on “The Legend of Cuticular Drusen.”

Dr. Yannuzzi is a professor of clinical ophthalmology at Columbia University (New York), and has authored nine books and more than 270 publications. He has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and is the founder of the Vitreoretinal Fellowship, head and founder of the LuEsther T. Mertz Retinal Research Center and founder of The Macula Foundation.

The Founders Award was first presented in 1997 to honor the efforts of the society’s founders, Drs. Jerald A. Bovino, Roy A. Levit, and Allen Z. Verne, for their foresight, dedication, and leadership in establishing the society as an open, democratic, worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement of vitreoretinal surgery and the study of vitreoretinal diseases.

Other notable awards

The Crystal Apple is a special recognition that is presented to an ASRS member who has gone to great lengths to advance the education and professional development of young vitreoretinal specialists.

In addition to receiving the award, each year's recipient also presents a distinguished lecture during the Early Career Section's Annual Meeting luncheon.
This year’s recipient is Seenu M. Hariprasad, MD. He is the inaugural Shui-Chin Lee Professor of Ophthalmology and visual science chief, Vitreoretinal Service at the University of Chicago.

The ASRS Service Award is being presented to Kirk H. Packo, MD, FACS, vitreoretinal surgeon, educator, researcher and inventor of more than 25 surgical instruments who also holds two U.S. patents. He is professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, where he also serves as Director of the Retina Section and co-founder of the medical center’s Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Surgery.

“Doing something ‘good enough’ has never been acceptable,” Dr. Packo said. “I approach my patients in the same way. If the patient were me or someone in my family, I would want the surgery to done absolutely right. I have never accepted less.”

The Retina Young Investigator Award is given in recognition of an outstanding paper published during the past year and other accomplishments of a young investigator (45 years of age or younger) who shows potential for impactful contributions to the field in the future.

This year’s recipient, Sophie J. Bakri, MD, is being recognized for her paper “Question Everything and Challenge the Dogma.”

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