News Releases

November 29, 2000

Emory Eye Center director Aaberg receives prestigious international award

ATLANTA - Thomas M. Aaberg, Sr., MD, the F. Phinzy Calhoun Sr. Professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology in the Emory School of Medicine, has received the prestigious Hermann Wacker Prize at this year's conference of Club Jules Gonin held in Taormina, Sicily, on Sept. 6. As recipient of the Wacker Prize, Dr. Aaberg also was the guest lecturer for the conference.

Club Jules Gonin, an international group of specialists in diseases of the retina and vitreous, meets every other year. Its membership is highly selective with only a few hundred members worldwide. Jules Gonin was a Swiss ophthalmologist living in the early 1900s who first discovered that retinal detachments were due to retinal tears. He published a benchmark book on how to repair retinal detachment in 1928, and his reputation was such that Americans went to Switzerland to study with him at that time.

Hermann Wacker, a now deceased German industrialist, donated money for the Wacker prize, which is presented every other year to acknowledge significant contributions to world ophthalmology.

"This is a very prestigious award for a truly outstanding clinician, teacher and administrator at Emory University," says Emory School of Medicine Dean Thomas J. Lawley, MD. "We celebrate the occasion of this well-deserved recognition to Dr. Thomas Aaberg Sr., a much beloved faculty member, physician and leader at Emory."

A retina specialist of international renown, Dr. Aaberg pioneered surgical techniques for retina and vitreous disorders that are used by ophthalmologists worldwide. He joined the Emory Eye Center in 1988 and is responsible for building the center to its current stature as one of the country's top eye centers with national rankings, treating more than 70,000 patients each year.

During his watch, the Emory Eye Center has been ranked as one of the country's 10 best eye centers in U.S. News & World Report's July 17, 2000 issue, the seventh year in a row that the center has been ranked in its report. Additionally, the center is one of the top ten NIH-funded eye research institutions in the U.S., with total grant funds of close to $6 million. Ophthalmology Times, a news magazine for ophthalmologists, recently included the Emory Eye Center in the top 10 of several of its national categories including "Best Overall Programs," "Best Research Programs" and "Best Residency Programs."

Dr. Aaberg earned his medical degree with honors at Harvard Medical School. He interned at Minneapolis General Hospital and served his residency at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. He served fellowships at Harvard and at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Prior to his Emory appointment, Dr. Aaberg served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, University of Oklahoma Medical School, University of Miami School of Medicine and at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he last served as professor and vice-chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. The recipient of numerous research awards, grants and fellowships, he has published articles, presented papers and honorary lectures for more than three decades.

Dr. Aaberg is currently the president of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO). He holds memberships in the American Academy of Ophthalmology, where he is a diplomate, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, the Macula Society (past president) and the Pan American Ophthalmological Society, among others.

Dr. Aaberg and his wife reside in Atlanta (30327).

Media Contact: Joy H. Bell
jbell@emory.edu
404-778-3711

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