Preserving the Precious Gift of Sight

RRF Award of Merit in Retina Research

Presented by The Retina Society

The Award of Merit in Retina Research was established in 1978 by RRF to recognize outstanding vision scientists whose work contributes to knowledge about the retina and retinal diseases. Funding for the Award of Merit in the amount of $50,000 is provided by Retina Research Foundation through a series of endowed gifts that are dedicated to the Award.

The recipient is chosen by the Awards Committee of the Retina Society, and the selection criteria are:

  • A single outstanding achievement in retina research, or;
  • A potentially significant contribution to new knowledge about the retina, its role in the visual process and/or vitreoretinal diseases or disorders.

2017 Award of Merit Recipient

Michael Klein, MD

Casey Eye Institute

Oregon Health & Science University

Portland, OR


Awarded at the Retina Society 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting

October 6, 2017

Boston, MA

Charles L. Schepens Lecture

Genetics and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Retina Society President Dr. Mark Johnson congratulating Dr. Klein

Dr. Klein delivering the Schepens Lecture

Education, Career Achievements, and Research Interests

Michael L. Klein, MD was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the University of Illinois for undergraduate studies, and received his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. Following his internship at San Francisco General Hospital, he served two years as a Captain in the US Army Medical Corp in Vietnam and at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, and retinal fellowships at Boston University Medical Center and the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In 1976 he entered private practice at the Devers Eye Institute in Portland Oregon, and nine years later joined the full-time faculty at the Oregon Health & Science University where he has been Professor of Ophthalmology, Director of the Macular Degeneration Center and Medical Director of the Low Vision Rehabilitation Clinic. He is a recipient of the department’s Ophthalmology Residency Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Swan Community Program Development Award. He has been awarded the Community Service Award from the Oregon Commission for the Blind, and has served as President of the state ophthalmological society, the Oregon Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Klein has been awarded The Arnall Patz Medal for contributions to the field of macular and retinal vascular disease from The Macula Society, and he is a past President of the Society. He is a recipient of the Senior Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and has been recognized by Best Doctors in America.

Dr. Klein’s clinical practice and research activities have focused on retinal diseases and surgery. He has been a Principal Investigator for several National Eye Institute and industry-sponsored clinical trials and is author or co-author of numerous publications dealing with the etiology, natural history, risk factors, clinical-pathologic correlation, and therapy for macular and retinal vascular diseases. In recent years, he has been Principal Investigator of an NEI sponsored study of the genetics of age-related macular degeneration.  He and collaborators have carried out studies in twins, families with multiple affected members, and case-control populations investigating the role of genetics in AMD.


2016 Award of Merit Recipient

Steve Charles, MD

Charles Retina Institute

Germantown, TN


Awarded at the Retina Society Annual Meeting

September 15, 2016

San Diego, CA


Charles L. Schepens Lecture

Evolution of Vitreoretinal Techniques and Technologies

Dr. Charles with Dr. Mark W. Johnson, Retina Society President

Dr. Charles delivering the Schepens Lecture

Education, Career Achievements, and Research Interests

Steve Charles, MD is one of the world’s leading vitreoretinal surgeons and has developed many of the techniques and devices used by vitreoretinal surgeons worldwide.  He has performed over 36,000 vitreoretinal surgeries, lectured in 50 countries and operated in 25, delivered 17 named lectures, and over 1000 speaking trips. He authored a leading textbook in the field which is now in the 5th edition and in 6 languages and authored over 174 articles in the medical literature and over 50 book chapters.  He is a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons and International College of Surgeons and a member of the Retina Society, Macular Society, American Society of Retinal Specialists, Club Jules Gonin, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American-European College of Ophthalmic Surgery, Euro-Lam, and the Dowling Society.  He is on the Board of Governors of the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research He is on the editorial board of Retina and a reviewer for Ophthalmology, Archives of Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology, and British Journal of Ophthalmology, writes a column for Retina Physician and is an editor for eMedicine.  He has received the Wacker Medal from the Club Jules Gonin, the first Founders Medal from the Vitreous Society, was inducted into the University of Miami School of Medicine Medical Alumni Association Hall of Fame, and was named by Ocular Surgery News as one of the top ten innovators in the past 25 years.   He is consistently listed in Best Doctors in America and Becker’s Top 34 Ophthalmologists in America. He is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Tennessee.

After four years in engineering school, he completed medical school at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He did research all four medical school years at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. After a medical internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami he completed a residency at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute followed by a two year Clinical Associate appointment at the National Eye Institute (NIH); focused on vitreoretinal surgery, angiogenesis research, and medical device engineering.

He is a mechanical and electrical engineer and has well over 100 issued or pending patents. He is a consultant for Alcon Laboratories and the principal architect of the Alcon Accurus and Alcon Constellation Vision System. Alcon also acquired InnoVision, a company started by Dr Charles, the Alcon Accurus and Constellation product lines are derivatives of InnoVision technology invented by Dr Charles.

He is the Founder of MicroDexterity Systems, which developed robots for dexterity enhancement for minimally invasive knee and hip replacement, spine surgery, and skull base neurosurgery. Investors included Medtronic, Baxter, and Allegiance V.Mueller. Stryker, Inc. acquired MicroDexterity Systems, in December 2009.

He is a cofounder, systems engineer, largest investor & stockholder, and Chairman of CamPlex Inc, developing advanced visualization technology for MIS spine, neurosurgery and trans-oral approaches to head and neck cancer.

He is on the board of Zeroto510, a medical device seed capital firm based in Memphis.

Steve Charles is an Airline Transport Pilot, Multi-Engine, Instrument rated pilot with Type Ratings in Citation 500, 560, 650, Falcon 50and Sabre 65 jets and currently owns and flies a Sabre 65.


Previous Award of Merit Recipients

2016    Steve Charles, MD

2015    Thomas W. Gardner, MD

2014    Peter A. Campochiaro, MD

2013    Cynthia A. Toth, MD

2012    Richard F. Spaide, MD

2011    Michael F. Marmor, MD

2010    Eliot Berson, MD

2009    Mark Humayun, MD, PhD

2008    William Tasman, MD

2007    Lloyd Paul Aiello, MD

2006    Carol Shields, MD

2005    Anthony Adamis, MD

2004    Frederick Ferris, III, MD, and Emily Chew, MD

2003    Stephen Ryan, MD

2002    Bradley Straatsma, MD

2001    no award given

2000    Ronald Klein, MD, MPH, and Barbara Klein, MD, MPH

1999    Lawrence A. Yannuzzi, MD

1998    Joe Hollyfield, PhD

1997    Stuart L. Fine, MD

1996    Gabriel Coscas, MD

1995    D. Jackson Coleman, MD

1994    Francois DeLori, PhD, and C. Katherine Dorey, PhD

1993    W. Richard Green, MD

1992    Ingrid Kreissig, MD

1991    Ronald G. Michels, MD, and Burt M. Glaser, MD

1990    Matthew M. LaVail, PhD

1989    Matthew D. Davis, MD

1988    Harvey A. Lincoff, MD

1987    Harris Ripps, PhD

1986    J. Donald Gass, MD

1985    Oleg Ponerantzeff, D Eng

1984    Werner K. Noell, MD

1983    Arnall Patz, MD

1982    Harry G. Sperling, PhD

1981    John E. Dowling, PhD

1980    Robert Machemer, MD

1979    Richard W. Young, MD

1978    Charles L. Schepens, MD

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Mission of RRF

The mission of the Retina Research Foundation is to reduce retinal blindness worldwide by funding programs in research and education. As a public charity, RRF raises funds from the private sector and the investment of its endowment funds.

RRF’s 48th Anniversary

October 1, 2017