Fight for Sight, a leader in funding research in the battle to preserve and restore sight, has named Stephen J. Ryan, dean of the Keck School of Medicine at USC, the first winner of the Fight for Sight/Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Vision Research. The award was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Dallas, Texas, Monday, Oct. 23.
Ryan is internationally recognized as an expert in treating such leading causes of blindness as retinal and macular disease and ocular trauma. Besides being dean of the Keck School, he also serves as its senior vice president for medical care. Additionally, he is president of the Doheny Eye Institute and professor of ophthalmology.
The award, which also comes with a $50,000 grant, is named after Fight for Sight’s founder, Mildred Weisenfeld, who created the organization in 1946 shortly after learning she would soon be blind from retinitis pigmentosa. At the time, all charitable programs regarding blindness were geared to helping the blind cope with their affliction. Fight for Sight was the first organization that sought funding for research into treating or preventing sight loss. Weisenfeld died in 1997.
“We are thrilled to present Dr. Ryan with the inaugural Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Vision Research,” said Grace S. Fisher, executive director of Fight for Sight. “His passion and innovation in furthering ophthalmology research has been a direct example and inspiration for young scientists the world over.”
Ryan earned a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, completed his residency and chief residency at the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his fellowship in ophthalmic pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
From 1974 to 1995, he served as chairman of the USC Department of Ophthalmology. He was a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC) and then chaired the Retina Panel for the NAEC.
“I am deeply grateful to Fight for Sight for their tireless work on behalf of eye research,” said Ryan. “And, it is a distinct honor to accept this grant named after the legendary Mildred Weisenfeld, whose name lives on through her work in funding young researchers.”