News Releases

Feb. 9, 2012

Emory Eye Center Faculty Receive Top ARVO Awards

Media contact: Joy Bell, 404-778-3711, jbell@emory.edu

(ATLANTA) The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) has announced this year's class of distinguished Fellows. Two Eye Center faculty members have been awarded the prestigious Gold Fellow status. Additionally, Henry F. Edelhauser, PhD, former director of research, will be honored at the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research (AFER) Gala Dinner for his lifetime of work in eye research. All three awards will take place during the spring national meeting in Florida.

Emory Eye Center Director Timothy Olsen, MD, and researcher Jeffrey Boatright, PhD, who is the current president of ARVO, will receive Gold Fellow awards for their exemplary contributions and dedication to ARVO.

By accepting this honor as a Fellow, ARVO states that "Fellows will continue to serve as role models and mentors for individuals pursuing careers in vision and ophthalmology research and to further ARVO's vision to facilitate the advancement of vision research and the prevention and cure of disorders of the visual system worldwide."

Boatright joined Emory Eye Center as a research associate in 1999, conducting research on the regulation of retinal gene expression, funded by an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute (NIH, NEI). This research expanded into using endogenous DNA repair mechanisms to treat genetic mutations that lead to blindness, a project funded by a separate NEI R01.

In another project, Boatright uses in vivo pharmacological approaches to explore the effects of atypical, endogenous compounds on animal models of retinal degeneration and glaucoma. This work is funded by the Katz Foundation, Foundation Fighting Blindness, NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH NCCAM), and a Merit Award from the Veterans Administration.

Boatright is a founding and current editor-in-chief of Molecular Vision, a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to the dissemination of research results in molecular biology, cell biology and the genetics of the visual system. The journal is rated in the top five of a field of 32 competing journals and is routinely used as an open access exemplar by the National Library of Medicine and The National Institutes of Health Library. Boatright also serves on the editorial boards of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology (APJO) and the International Ophthalmology Times.

Boatright is the 2011-2012 president of ARVO, the premier vision research organization in the world. He holds memberships in American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Neuroscience, and the International Society for Eye Research. In 2010, he was tapped as a Silver Fellow of ARVO.

Edelhauser has made pioneering contributions towards transcorneal, transscleral, and suprachoroidal drug delivery to the eye. He served as Emory Eye Center's Sylvia Montag Ferst and Frank W. Ferst Endowed Research Professor and director of its research section from 1989 until 2009. He has served as president of ARVO and received the honor and senior achievement awards from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. His research interest includes corneal endothelial physiology, surgical pharmacology, ocular drug delivery and toxicology. He has been involved in developing intraocular irrigating solutions for phacoemulsification and vitrectomy, and his research has bridged the gap in many areas between the laboratory and the clinic.

In 1999 he was awarded the Castroviejo Medal and the Alcon Research Award. In 2005 he received the prestigious Proctor Medal Award, ARVO highest honor in Ophthalmic Research, and in 2007, the R. Townley Paton M.D. award from the Eye Bank Association of America for his research contributions to national and international eye banking. A highly regarded expert in transscleral drug delivery, in 2011 he co-authored a new textbook, Drug Product Development for the Back of the Eye (aapspress/Springer), along with Uday B. Kompella, PhD, of the University of Colorado. The text explores approaches for a delivery system to get drugs to the back of the eye.

Most recently, he and researcher Mark Prausnitz of Georgia Tech were awarded a patent for their microneedle apparatus, which provides needed pharmacotherapy to the back of the eye. As a result, a start-up company, Clearside Biomedical, will further develop the technology. The company received a $4 million venture capital investment. Research leading to the development of the microneedle technology was sponsored by the NIH.

Olsen has served as Emory Eye Center's director since 2008. He previously served at the University of Minnesota where his combined team worked together for nearly 11 years to examine the role of proteomics in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). While there, he also helped develop the Minnesota Grading System (MGS) for AMD, a system that has won international awards.

Olsen currently collaborates with researchers at Emory and at Georgia Tech to develop a new surgical instrumentation to address advanced stages of AMD. Additionally, he researches drug delivery systems and models to treat vitreoretinal disorders. Dr. Olsen is principal investigator on many separate grants, with total funding currently at over $4.8 million. Olsen holds leadership positions in the American Ophthalmologic Society (AOS), and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). He has been selected to serve on the Board of Directors for The Emory Clinic and is an active member of the Retina Society, Macula Society, and the Society of Heed Fellows. He serves as an executive editor for the American Journal of Ophthalmology, serves on the editorial board for Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS), Ocular Surgery News (OSN), and as a reviewer for numerous other journals.

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