Each year on Friday evening at the annual AAO meeting, the Retina world pauses to remember the late Ronald G. Michels. Dr. Michels was a not only a pioneer in vitreoretinal surgery but also impacted the lives of residents and fellows during their fellowship training at the Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore. The Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation was established in 1991 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to support second-year fellows in training in vitreoretinal surgery in the United States. Training was key to Dr. Michels, who left the retina community too soon; however, his legacy lives on each year when we meet at AAO to honor Dr. Michels and celebrate the Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation Award winners.
At this year’s 25th Annual Meeting, Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Brucker offered his opening comments and recognized Dr. Michels’ daughter, Dr. Allison Michels-Pettinelli and Dr. Michels’ son, Mr. Randy Michels. Then, Dr. Brucker turned the Master of Ceremony responsibilities over to Dr. Jonathan L. Prenner, MD, Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, NJ. During the program, Foundation updates were also made by Dr. R.V. Paul Chan, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, Chair of the Foundation’s Website, and Dr. Amy C. Schefler, Houston, TX, Chair of the Foundation’s Fundraising committee.
Dr. Prenner was candid and witty as he introduced each award winning retina fellow and their respective mentor, each of whom outlined the many accomplishments of the respective awardee. It’s important to note that there are now 82 Michels Foundation Fellows. This year’s winners are…
Dilraj S. Grewal, MD is a current fellow at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Grewal went to medical school in India, and since he arrived in the United States for a research fellowship, he’s written 65 peer-reviewed publications and victorious the last three AAO’s winning “Best in Show” surgical video contest and he has many other accomplishments.
M. Ali Khan, MD is a current fellow at Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, PA and involved in three Wills Eye innovation study grants. He was a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Southern California, USC, Los Angeles, CA and an AOA graduate of UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Khan received a full tuition merit-based scholarship for both college and medical school.
Yoshihiro Yonekawa, MD is currently a fellow at William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan and has written 84 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Yonekawa was the winner of the Edward Norton Prize in Ophthalmology as well as a recent recipient of the prestigious Retina Society’s Fellowship Research Award. He will be joining the faculty at Mass Eye and Ear in July 2016.
After the this year’s award recipients were recognized, Dr. Robert Avery, Santa Barbara, CA and Dr. Baruch Kuppermann, Irvine, CA, the first Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation award recipients, outlined their current work in retina pharmaceuticals and stem cell research.
Then, Dr. Ehsan Rahimy, Palo Alto, CA, who was one of last year’s recipients, updated the group on where he is practicing now and mentioned, “the late Dr. Ron Michels treated one of his patient’s spouse years ago.”
All of the current and past Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation recipients have remarkable individual accomplishments, ranging from research & development to patient care. Drs. Grewal, Khan and Yonekawa are the future of retina, and we offer our congratulations to each of them for their exemplary work. It will be amazing to see what they accomplish during their careers in the field of vitreoretinal surgery. We, all, wish you the very best.
Special remarks were then made by Dr. Pat Wilkinson, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, and his wife, Alice Michels Wilkinson, who is Dr. Michels’ widow.
The Sponsors for this year include Alcon Research, Ltd, Regeneron, RetinaLink and the Vit-Buckle Society.
To learn more about the Michels Foundation please visit http://www.michelsfoundation.org