The RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding AMD Research (the “Weeks Award”) has been established through the generosity of Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), an anonymous donor, and the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO), to annually recognize and celebrate an excellent researcher focused on age-related macular degeneration. The award carries the name of David F. Weeks, former President and Chairman of Research to Prevent Blindness, in honor of his contributions to the field of vision research. The award will be presented at the AUPO Annual Meeting and will carry an unrestricted award of $40,000, payable to the recipient directly and to be used at his or her discretion.
The nomination period for 2018 is open through June 1.
2018 RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding AMD Research
Robert Mullins, PhD is a cellular/molecular biologist with a research focus on diseases that affect the macula. He studied biology at Wheaton College in Illinois and received his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from Saint Louis University. He has studied age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for over 20 years, with an emphasis on the choriocapillaris, drusen and Bruch’s membrane. A major focus of his laboratory is utilizing human donor eyes to understand the mechanisms of human disease and to use this knowledge in the development of model systems and treatment paradigms. One of the more important findings of these studies has been that vascular cell death in AMD occurs very early in the course of the disease, and that choriocapillaris loss is correlated with the size and number of drusen in human eyes. These studies also suggest that the immune system is likely to be the most prominent source of choriocapillaris cell injury in AMD. These studies have ramifications for the development of pharmaceutical and stem cell therapies for AMD. Dr. Mullins recognizes that he has been extremely fortunate throughout his career to have outstanding mentors, role models, trainees, and colleagues. The generosity of others, and especially the generosity of eye donors and their loved ones, has been the driving force behind the research in which he has been privileged to participate.
Nominees for the Weeks Award must fulfill the following criteria:
- Must be US citizens or permanent residents of the US and doing research in the US
- Well-established, senior level investigator with documented history of conducting eye and vision research in AMD
- MDs, PhDs, or MD/PhDs are eligible
- Must be PI (Principal Investigator) on an active NIH grant
- Embodies the following qualities:
- Has demonstrated excellence in AMD research that is basic, clinical, or translational in nature
- Has brought about outstanding innovation in and/or advancement in the understanding of AMD from research relevant to its prevention, treatment, or cure
- Has exemplified the highest principles of scientific research and leadership
- Has made contributions in research within the last five years; that is, the Weeks Award is not an honorific for research contributions made for many years previously
- Nominees are NOT required to be Members or Associate Members of AUPO nor their institutions members of AUPO
- Nominees can be from academic or non-academic institutions
- Nominees can be from departments other than ophthalmology, but for academic institutions, the nomination must be made by the Ophthalmology Department Chair and for non-academic institutions, the nomination must be made by the Research Director or ranking scientist
Special consideration in the selection process will be given to:
- Recognition of current research activities, not simply the length of service or contributions made many years previously
- Innovative and outstanding work that has significantly advanced the field
Candidates must be nominated by the Ophthalmology Department Chair in academic institutions or by the Research Director or ranking scientist in non-academic institutions
The Application Packet must include the following items (10 pt. font or greater):
- One (1) letter maximum (not to exceed three pages) from the Ophthalmology Chair in academic institutions or Research Director or ranking scientist in non-academic institutions, summarizing the Nominee’s special qualifications for the Award and verifying that, if awarded:
- the award will be granted directly to the Awardee and not counted against normal compensation or deposited in department accounts
- the Awardee will attend the Annual Meeting of the AUPO to receive the Award and provide a lecture at the AUPO Annual Meeting the year after receiving the award
- Two (2) supporting letters maximum (each not to exceed two pages) from established scientists, mentors, and or leaders in the nominee’s field of interest
- A copy of the Nominee’s current Curriculum Vitae
- A copy (pdf) of the three papers in the past 5 years which exemplify the advance being considered for the award
- A signed letter from the Nominee (not to exceed two pages) summarizing the Nominee’s recent accomplishment(s) in AMD research and plans for future research. The Nominee must also agree in the letter to address the Annual Meeting of the AUPO the year after the Weeks Award is given.
- The application packet must be compiled by the Ophthalmology Department Chair for academic institutions or the Research Director or ranking scientist from non-academic institutions and submitted electronically by June 1.
- All completed applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee, consisting of Chairs and Directors of Research from Departments of Ophthalmology, and a recommendation forwarded to the AUPO Board of Trustees for approval.
- The Awardee will be notified in August.