The American Academy of Ophthalmology and Academy President George A. Williams, MD, are pleased to recognize Kirk H. Packo, MD, as a Guest of Honor at AAO 2019 in San Francisco.
During his career Kirk Packo, MD, has established himself as an innovative, skilled vitreoretinal surgeon, dedicated educator and scientific meeting impresario. A professionally trained actor, Dr. Packo’s presentations are renowned for their clarity, wit, humor and sophistication. He is widely acclaimed as the “Yoda of PowerPoint and Photoshop.”
No one wants to follow a Packo production! The first thing I do when a scientific program is released is to find when Dr. Packo is speaking and hope I am not the next speaker. Dr. Packo’s presentations combine penetrating scientific insight with a flair for the dramatic. Few ophthalmologists who were present at his Academy Subspecialty Day talk in 2005 on access to bevacizumab will ever forget his “Tear down this wall!” line or his 2017 presentation on the physics of vitrectomy dressed as Sir Isaac Newton, given in the Toledo equivalent of Old English. I know I will not.
Many, myself included, consider Dr. Packo to be father of the Academy Subspecialty Day. His 1993 retina meeting in Chicago demonstrated the need and the enthusiasm for a comprehensive subspecialty meeting focused on retinal disease. Within a few years of that meeting the Academy established Subspecialty Day meetings in all ocular subspecialties. These meetings remain a pillar and highlight of the annual meeting.
Dr. Packo’s professional leadership is legendary and transcending. As president of the Vitreous Society in 2001-02, his vision was directly responsible for the transition of the Vitreous Society into the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), now the largest retinal organization in the world. This year the ASRS recognized Dr. Packo’s contributions by establishing the Packo Award for service to the society. He was the inaugural recipient and received the award to a standing ovation of his colleagues and friends.
One of Dr. Packo ’s great passions is fellow and resident education. As chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Rush Medical College, he has directly trained dozens of residents and fellows and literally thousands of others through his national and international presentations. He has given over 1,000 lectures in 20 nations and is among the most prolific ophthalmic speakers of all time. His lectures emphasize not only the science, but also the humanity of medicine. His admonition, “Treat one patient a day for free, and you will have the richest practice in the world,” has been heard by a generation of retina fellows and is just one example. He has received numerous national and international teaching awards, including the Academy’s Senior Achievement Award. He is also a member of the prestigious Lepper Society of Teachers.
As a surgeon, educator and patient advocate, Dr. Packo embodies the essence of protecting sight and empowering lives on a daily basis. He has made me laugh more times than I can remember, all the while teaching me something new. I am privileged to have him as a friend and colleague and delighted that he is a Guest of Honor at this year’s annual meeting.
- George A. Williams, MD