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. 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. Before I announce the recipients, I would like to highlight some changes that Dr. Alexander J. “Sandy” Brucker, Scheie Eye Institute, Philadelphia, PA., announced during his opening comments.
Dr. Brucker has always been the Master of Ceremonies during the Michels Foundation’s reception. Dr. Brucker is often times stern as he commands the audience to “take their seats so we can get started.” That’s Dr. Brucker and his wonderful demeanor. The other key individuals who need to be recognized are Dr. Pat Wilkinson, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and his lovely wife, Alice Michels Wilkinson, who is Dr. Michels’ widow. This year Dr. Brucker introduced a notable proverbial changing of the guard. Jonathan L. Prenner, MD, Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, NJ, will take over the reins as Master of Ceremonies. Dr. R. V. Paul Chan, Cornell Weill Medical Center, NY, will manage the Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation website and Dr. Amy C. Schefler will handle fundraising. Two returning Board members include Dr. Michels’ daughter, Dr. Allison Michels-Pettinelli and Dr. Michels’ son, Mr. Randy Michels.
Dr. Prenner was superb as the new MC. He introduced each award winning retina fellow and his or her mentor, each of whom outlined the many accomplishments of the respective awardee. It’s important to note that there are now 79 Michels Foundation Fellows. This year’s winners include Mrinali Patel Gupta, MD, Weill Cornell Medical College, NY, NY, Samuel K. Steven Houston III, MD and Ehsan Rahimy, MD, Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, PA, Damien C. Rodger, MD, PhD, USC Eye Institute, Los Angeles, CA, and Sumit Sharma, MD, Duke University, Durham, NC. Their individual accomplishments, ranging from research & development to patient care and can-do attitude, are outstanding. They are the future in 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.
The Corporate Sponsors should be recognized for this event, too. They include Alcon Research, Ltd, RetinaLink and Topcon Medical Systems.
Again, hats off to Drs. Patel Gupta, Houston, Rahimy, Rodger and Sharma. We, all, wish you the very best.
To learn more about the Michels Foundation please visit www.michelsfoundation.org