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Ophthalmology’s Dr. Gary Abrams wins Retina Research Foundation’s annual lecture award


Wayne State University Physician Group ophthalmologist Gary Abrams, M.D., will receive the 20th annual Gertrude D. Pyron Lecture Award from the Retina Research Foundation during the American Society of Retina Specialists’ annual meeting July 10-14 in Vienna, Austria.

“I am humbled and honored to receive the award. It came as a surprise, as I did not know I had been nominated,” said Dr. Abrams, director and founder of the Ligon Research Center of Vision and a professor of Ophthalmology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. “I truly appreciate the recognition for my efforts in research and training over many years at Kresge Eye Institute. I have been fortunate to be in an environment that fosters excellence.”

Dr. Abrams sees patients at WSUPG’s Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit. He is a leader in retinal and macular diseases and surgery, and has established a reputation as an expert in the repair of complicated retinal detachments.

The award includes a $25,000 research grant, which Dr. Abrams will use to further research in the Ligon Center.

He will present the lecture “Vision Restoration Strategies for Retinal Degenerations” July 12.

“In this talk, I will discuss optogenetic strategies to restore vision in blind individuals,” Dr. Abrams said. “Zhuo-Hua Pan, Ph.D., the scientific director of the Ligon Center, has been the world leader in using optogenetics, the insertion of a light-sensitive protein into the retina of blind mice, to restore vision.”

The strategy is close to clinical trials in humans through Retrosense Therapeutics, an Ann Arbor-based company that licensed the novel technology from Dr. Pan and WSU.

The Houston-based Retina Research Foundation was established in 1969 by the first female retina specialist in the United States, Alice McPherson, M.D., to establish and fund programs for the eradication of vitreoretinal disease. The Pyron Award was endowed by an estate gift from Gertrude Pyron of San Antonio, Texas. The geologist made her bequest to RRF because of her admiration for Dr. McPherson’s leadership in vision science.

Dr. Abrams will also receive the society’s Senior Honor Award, given to individuals for longtime service to the organization. He joined the society within two years of its formation, and has given several lectures, sponsored many resident and fellow presentations, and organized a symposium at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting for the ASRS, he said. He has published more than 200 articles and book chapters in the field of vitreoretinal surgery and has served on numerous National Institutes of Health review panels and on the Data and Safety Monitoring Committees of the Central Retinal Vein Occlusion Study, the Submacular Surgery Trials and the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network. He has held a number of leadership positions, including chair of the WSU Department of Ophthalmology. He continues to teach, manage complicated retinal diseases and pursue research activities, and has trained more than 60 vitreoretinal disease and surgery fellows to date.

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