The American Academy of Ophthalmology and Academy President George A. Williams, MD, are pleased to recognize Mark S. Blumenkranz, MD, as a guest of honor at AAO 2019 in San Francisco.
Dr. Blumenkranz is the HJ Smead Professor Emeritus and founder and co-director of the Ophthalmic Innovation Program in the Department of Ophthalmology at Stanford University.
I first met Mark in 1982 when I was a fellow at the Medical College of Wisconsin and he was a visiting professor from Bascom Palmer. He presented his early, novel work on drug treatment for proliferative vitreoretinopathy. It was apparent then he was destined for great contributions to ophthalmology.
Subsequently, I had the privilege to join Mark in practice in Michigan where I discovered an amazing clinician, innovative and skilled surgeon, insightful investigator and lifelong friend. In 1992, Mark returned to Stanford where he would become the chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and serve from 1997 until 2015. During that time, he spearheaded the development of the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford and served as its founding director from 2010 until 2015. Dr. Blumenkranz is internationally recognized for his many remarkable contributions to protecting sight and empowering lives. He has pioneered groundbreaking laser systems, novel drug delivery platforms, retinal pharmaceuticals, ocular gene therapy, and, most recently, medical data analytics. He has served on the editorial boards of Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology, Retina and Graefe’s Archives for Ophthalmology. He is a recipient of the Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Academy Schepens Medal, the American Society of Retinal Specialists Pyron Award, the Club Jules Gonin Wacker Prize and the Macula Society Gass Medal. He presented the AAO 2013 Jackson Lecture.
As a leader, he has served as president of the American University Professors of Ophthalmology, president of the Retina Society, and president of the Macula Society. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Audacious Goals Initiative of the National Eye Institute and is a fellow of the Corporation of Brown University, where he served as the chair of the Medical School Committee from 2006 to 2018. Mark Dr Blumenkranz has demonstrated a career-long interest and expertise in innovation and technology transfer. The holder of 18 U.S. patents, he has founded or co-founded multiple companies, including Optimedica Corp., Oculeve Corp., the publicly traded Adverum Biotechnologies, and Verana Health, a data analytics company specializing in working with qualified clinical data registries such as the Academy’s IRIS Registry. His innovative spirit was recognized with the Lifetime Innovator Award by the Ophthalmology Innovation Symposium in 2018.
Mark is one of those special people who makes everyone he works with better. His sense of purpose is contagious, and his ability to focus on a problem is grounded by penetrating insight and integrity. He possesses a purity of intellectual honesty that makes him his own toughest critic. If he can convince himself something is a good idea, it probably is. I am delighted to recognize Dr. Blumenkranz as an AAO 2019 Guest of Honor.
- George A. Williams, MD