News Releases

March 24, 2010


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

Emory Eye Center Director Receives Young Investigator Award From Macula Society


(ATLANTA) Emory Eye Center Director Timothy W. Olsen, MD, F. Phinizy Calhoun Sr. Professor of Ophthalmology, recently received the 2010 Macula Society Young Investigator Award at the 33rd annual meeting in late February.

Founded in 1977, the prestigious Macula Society is a forum for new research in retinal vascular and macular diseases (the macula is the center of the retina, responsible for the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving, recognizing faces, and seeing fine detail).

The Young Investigator Award (formerly the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award) is presented “to that individual or group of individuals under 50 years of age whose work gives promise of notable advance in the clinical treatment of disorders of the eye.” As the award recipient, Dr. Olsen presented the keynote lecture: “The Role of Mitochondria in the Aging Macula.”

The award was presented by Jennifer Lim, MD, professor of ophthalmology and director of the Retina Service at the Eye and Ear Infirmary, University of Illinois. “Dr. Olsen’s research work on proteomics of AMD hold great promise in the future management and treatment of AMD, she says. “He is already a respected scholar in the field, a funded researcher, a recognized educator and also an excellent clinician. It was my pleasure to present him this award at the recent Macula Society meeting.”

Prior to joining Emory, Dr. Olsen served as professor of ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota, having joined in 1998. He held the William H. Knobloch Retina Chair and served as the director of Retina and director of the Minnesota Lions Macular Degeneration Center at the university, established in 1998 under his leadership. While in Minnesota, he recruited a proteomic biochemist and collaborator, Deborah Ferrington, who studies the relationship of proteins in aging.

“We are extremely pleased that the innovative work of Dr. Olsen has been recognized by the academic leadership of the Macula Society,” says Thomas J. Lawley, MD, dean of the Emory School of Medicine. “He is a role-model physician scientist and translational researcher. Dr. Olsen works very hard in his role as chairman, provides high-quality direct patient care, and simultaneously investigates basic mechanisms in complex disease processes, specifically age-related macular degeneration. His works exemplifies physician-led, team science and successful collaboration.”

Research conducted by Dr. Olsen on the proteins of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) using the Minnesota Grading System (MGS) has won awards internationally. His lecture at the Macula Society emphasized the role of the mitochondria in the aging macula. Specifically, Dr. Olsen’s proteomic work suggests that the mitochondria (energy producing parts of the cell) control some key oxidative response pathways involved in the early stages of AMD.

"I’m deeply humbled to be given the opportunity to present our work and to receive such a prestigious award from the leaders in the field of macular disease,” says Dr. Olsen. “I’m a firm believer in team science and collaboration. This lecture provided an opportunity to share the combined hard work of many, very bright and talented individuals.”

Dr. Olsen was selected to become the seventh Chairman of Ophthalmology at Emory and began his service on January 1, 2008, following his predecessor, teacher, and mentor, Thomas M. Aaberg Sr., MD. Emory Eye Center and the Department of Ophthalmology has a long and well-established presence in Atlanta, tracing its roots back to 1872 in the Atlanta Medical College.

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