Preserving the Precious Gift of Sight

RRF Pyron Award

Presented by American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS)

The RRF Pyron Award was created by RRF to recognize outstanding vision scientists whose work contributes to knowledge about vitreoretinal disease. Funding for this Award is provided in the amount of $30,000 by Retina Research Foundation. This award was made possible by an estate gift to RRF from Gertrude D. Pyron of San Antonio, Texas. She was an imminent geologist who admired Dr. Alice McPherson’s leadership in vision science. Prior to 2000, the Pyron Award had been named the W. H. Helmerich III Award in honor of his service to the community.

2016 Award Recipient

Donald J. D’Amico, MD

The John Milton McLean Professor and Chairman

Weill Cornell Medicine, Ophthalmology

New York, NY


Award Presented at the ASRS Annual Meeting

August 10, 2016

San Francisco, CA


Title of Lecture

Permanent Keratoprosthesis and Complex Ocular Reconstruction: New Opportunities and Challenges for the Vitreoretinal Surgeon

Dr. Tarek Hassan, ASRS President, introducing Dr. D’Amico

Dr. Don D’Amico

2016 RRF Pyron Awardee Dr. D’Amico and Dr. Hassan

Donald J. D’Amico, MD, Professor and Chairman of Ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at New York Presbyterian, is an internationally recognized leader in the field of vitreoretinal surgery. He assumed the Chair at Weill Cornell in 2006 after his longstanding positions at Harvard Medical School as Professor of Ophthalmology, and as Associate Chief of Ophthalmology and Director of the Diabetic Unit at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois College of Medicine, he completed his residency at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He completed his fellowship in vitreoretinal diseases at the University of Miami, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, followed by selection as Chief Resident in Ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary prior to joining the Harvard faculty.

Dr. D’Amico has published over 200 articles on vitreoretinal diseases and has co-edited two books covering comprehensive retinal themes. He has participated as a principal investigator or co-investigator in many clinical trials and laboratory investigations. His major interests include: vitreoretinal surgery; diabetic retinopathy; experimental lasers and other technologies for the surgical treatment of vitreoretinal disorders such as retinal detachment; macular degeneration; and endophthalmitis and intravitreal drug therapy. As attending physician specializing in the care of patients with vitreoretinal disorders at the Weill Cornell Department of Ophthalmology, Dr. D’Amico also provides direct instruction of medical students, ophthalmology residents, and retina fellows. In his role as a teacher, he twice received the Teacher of the Year Award given by the residents of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Dr. D’Amico is a distinguished national and international lecturer and is the recipient of many honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He serves on the board of four major journals, and is highly active in professional societies. He is a Past President of the Retina Society, and is the immediate Past President of the prestigious international retinal society Club Jules Gonin.


2015 Award Recipient

Gary W. Abrams, MD

Kresge Eye Institute

Detroit, MI


Award Presented at the ASRS Annual Meeting

July 12, 2015

Vienna, Austria


Title of Lecture

Vision Restoration Strategies for Retinal Degenerations


Dr. Abrams received his medical education at the University of Oklahoma and completed an internship at the University of Oregon Hospitals and Clinics.  Following a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy as a flight surgeon, he did research in Milwaukee, WI with Henry F. Edelhauser, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Aaberg, Sr., M.D. with whom he described the expansile properties and arrived at the non-expansile concentration of SF6 gas for vitreoretinal surgery.  He completed a residency in Ophthalmology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, then a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami.  During his time in Miami, working in Dr. Robert Machemer’s laboratory, he described the natural history and the effect of vitrectomy on experimental perforating injuries of the eye.

Following two years on the faculty of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, he moved to The Eye Institute of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee where he eventually became Professor and Director of the Retina Service.  He was program director of the vitreoretinal fellowship as it evolved into one of the premier training programs in the country, training many of the leaders in vitreoretinal surgery today.

Dr. Abrams is an innovator in vitrectomy, showing that addition of glucose to the infusion solution prevented cataract during diabetic vitrectomy and described the en bloc dissection technique for diabetic tractional membranes.  With his colleagues, he described the expansile properties of perfluorpropane gas in the eye and arrived at the non-expansile concentration for vitreoretinal surgery.  As a leader in retina, he established a reputation as an expert in repair of complicated retinal detachments.  He was the site Principal Investigator of the Macular Photocoagulation Study and the Silicone Study and participated in numerous other important clinical trials such as the ETDRS.

Following time with Associated Retinal Consultants in Royal Oak, MI, Dr. Abrams became Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology of Wayne State University at the Kresge Eye Institute where he has remained for the past 21 years. He founded and remains the Director of the Ligon Research Center of Vision, dedicated to research to restore vision in the blind.  Currently under Dr. Zhuo-Hua Pan, Scientific Director, the center focuses on optogenetic strategies for vision restoration and first reported restoration of the light response in mice blind from retinal degenerations following retinal gene transfer of channel rhodopsin II, a photoactive plant protein.  Stepping down as department chair in 2011, he continues to teach residents and fellows, manage complicated retinal diseases and pursue research activities.  Dr. Abrams is most proud of the more than 60 vitreoretinal fellows he has trained.

Dr. Abrams has more than 200 articles and book chapters in the field of vitreoretinal surgery.  He has served on numerous NIH 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 was the 2005 co-recipient of the Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research from the Retina Research Foundation and received the Secretariat and Life Achievement Honor Awards from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Abrams has held a number of leadership positions.  He was Trustee of the Retina Section and President of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and represented ARVO as a Councilor for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  He served on the Board and was President of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology.  He served as Chairman of the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research and continues to sit on the Board of Governors and is a current member of the Executive Committee of the Club Jules Gonin.  He is on the Editorial Board of the journal Retina.


Previous RRF Pyron Award Recipients

2015    Gary W. Abrams, MD

2014    Andrew P. Schachat, MD

2013    George A. Williams, MD

2012    Daniel F. Martin, MD

2011    Jean Bennett, MD, PhD and Albert Maguire, MD

2010    Julia Haller, MD

2009    C. Pat Wilkinson, MD

2008    Susan Bressler, MD,and Neil Bressler, MD

2007    Carmen Puliafito, MD

2006    Brooks McCuen, MD

2005    Mark Blumenkranz, MD

2004    Morton F. Goldberg, MD

2003    Lloyd Aiello, MD

2002    Michael Trese, MD

2001    Yaseo Tano, MD

2000    Gholan Peyman, MD

Helmerich Award for Outstanding Achievement in Retina Research

1999    Harry W. Flynn, MD

1998    Stanley Chang, MD

1997    Thomas M. Aaberg, MD

1996    Robert Watzke, MD

1995    George F. Hilton, MD

1992    Christina Enroth-Cugell, MD

1991    Albert Aguayo, FRSC

1990    Seymour Benzer, MD

1989    Torsten N. Wiesel, MD

1988    Alan L. Hodgkin, FRSC

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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