RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding Vision Research

Recognizing and celebrating an excellent vision researcher focused on potentially blinding eye disease.

The RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding Vision 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 outstanding ophthalmic vision scientist whose research has made meaningful contributions to the understanding and/or treatment of potentially blinding eye disease. 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 $50,000, payable to the recipient directly and to be used at his or her discretion.

The nomination period for 2022 is now closed.

2021 RPB David F. Weeks Award for Outstanding Vision Research

David Williams, PhD
David Williams, PhD
University of Rochester
"Seeing Through the Retina"

David Williams received his PhD in psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 1979. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, he joined the University of Rochester faculty in 1981. Dr. Williams’ research program marshals optical technology to address questions about the limits of vision in the normal and diseased eye. His research team demonstrated the first adaptive optics system for the eye, showing that vision can be improved beyond that provided by conventional spectacles. This work was instrumental in the development of wavefront-guided refractive surgery used throughout the world today. His group also demonstrated the first closed-loop adaptive optics ophthalmoscope, which is now widely used in vivo to study the normal and diseased retina at a microscopic spatial scale.

Dr. Williams has trained over 50 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows throughout his career. For nearly 3 decades, Dr. Williams has served as director of the University of Rochester’s Center for Visual Science, an interdepartmental program of more than 30 faculty invested in all aspects of vision science and ophthalmology. From 2011-2019, Dr. Williams also served as Dean for Research in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. He was a founding member and associate director of the Center for Adaptive Optics, an NSF-funded Science and Technology Center. This Center brought together scientists and engineers from astronomy and vision science to develop adaptive optics technology. He has also led a NEl-funded Bioengineering Research Partnership, a consortium of five university and corporate partners that worked for a decade to improve performance of the adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope. He currently leads a consortium involving four universities to develop the next generation of therapies to restore vision in the blind.

Award Information


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
  • 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 vision research that is basic, clinical, or translational in nature
    • Has brought about outstanding innovation in and/or advancement in vision research as manifest by outstanding publications
    • 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 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
  • For Department Chairs in academic institutions and Ranking Scientist in non-academic institutions to be eligible for the Weeks Award, they must be nominated by a person of equal or higher rank from another institution.

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 vision 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.

Selection Process

  • 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.   

Past Recipients


Christine Curcio, PhD
Christine Curcio, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham
"Telling the Untold Stories of Geographic Atrophy Via Histologically Validated Clinical Imaging"


Jayakrishna Ambati, MD
Jayakrishna Ambati, MD
University of Virginia School of Medicine
"The Inflammasome is a Target for Macular Degeneration"


Robert Mullins, PhD
Robert Mullins, PhD
University of Iowa
"Recent Insights into the Immune System in Age-Related Macular Degeneration"