Research to Prevent Blindness, Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology announce 2023 recipient of RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding Vision Research

David J. Calkins, PhD, is being recognized for his groundbreaking contributions to the field of vision research.

David J. Calkins, PhD, has been selected as the 2023 RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding Vision Research (Weeks Award).

The Weeks Award, funded by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), an anonymous donor, and the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO), annually recognizes and celebrates an excellent vision researcher.

According to a news release, the award carries the name of David F. Weeks, former president and chairman of RPB, in honor of his contributions to the field of vision research. Dr. Calkins will receive his award and deliver a presentation during the AUPO 2023 Annual Meeting in San Diego, California in January.

Calkins is the Denis M. O’Day Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, the Vice Chairman and Director of the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, Director of the Vanderbilt University Vision Research Center, and the Assistant Vice President for Research at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“If ever the Weeks Award were to recognize scientists who brought blinding eye diseases into the realm of central nervous diseases, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, Dr. Calkins would have to be the first in line,” Paul Sternberg, Jr., MD, chair of the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, said in a news release. “Truly unique among his peer group, Dr. Calkins epitomizes what we desire in a scientific leader.”

AUPO President Joan Miller, MD, pointed out in a statement that Calkins a trailblazer in elucidating the pathogenesis of glaucoma as a neurodegeneration, recognizing the primary role of axonal dysfunction, and demonstrating the effectiveness of neuroprotection.

“His work holds promise for improved therapies for patients with this blinding disease, and he is a very worthy recipient of the RPB David F. Weeks Award,” Miller said in a statement.

Brian F. Hofland, PhD, president of Research to Prevent Blindness, noted that Weeks, the former president and chairman of RPB, has long been committed to excellence in his work.

"Sadly, Mr. Weeks passed away in 2021, but his commitment to eradicating sight-threatening conditions, and his belief that excellent research was the best means to do so, lives on in the choice of Dr. David Calkins for the 2023 RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding Vision Research," Hofland said in a statement. “We congratulate Dr. Calkins on this award and are grateful for all that he has done, and will continue to do, to advance novel glaucoma research.”

For more information on the RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding Vision Research, visit the AUPO website.