The American Academy of Ophthalmology is pleased to honor Marilyn T. Miller, MD with the 2019 Laureate Recognition Award. This designation recognizes individuals from around the world who have made exceptional contributions for the betterment of eye care, leading to the prevention of blindness and restoration of sight worldwide. Dr. Miller is recognized for her significant contributions to the field of pediatric ophthalmology and teratology, her lasting impact on the profession through her international humanitarian outreach and her accomplishments as an exceptional leader, educator and mentor.
For over half a century in her practice of pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, Dr. Miller's patients were the primary recipients of her talents. There are others:
Dr. Miller is a respected teratologist, mastering the intricacies of syndromes involving the eyes. She is renowned for her work in Duane syndrome and its relationship to the effects of thalidomide and its association with autism. More recently, the mysteries of the Zika virus received her attention and pivotal collaboration with international colleagues.
She is truly an international ambassador, touching colleagues globally with her dedication, care, teaching and volunteerism. Representative of this humanitarian outreach, her lasting commitments include Nigeria, where the Marilyn Miller Centre for Children’s Eye Health and Genetics was established in her honor; India, with perennial support of the Aravind Eye Hospital in India; and China, with the establishment and coordination of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus’ (AAPOS) pediatric ophthalmology fellowships.
Dr. Miller’s interest in education has touched countless students – many anonymously – whether medical students or colleagues in her field of expertise. She remains active in the selection of medical students, residents and fellows. As an invited lecturer, Dr. Miller shares her vast experience and diagnostic acumen, as well as her candor, wit and empathy.
There is no better lifelong mentor than Dr. Miller. As a professor at the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology, alumni residents and fellows all have stories that corroborate and supplement the many kind words about her. In turn, she continues these relationships and delights in their successes. Her recipes for success – curiosity, listening, inquiry and follow-through are legendary.
Anyone who has been with her in a board room, a committee meeting, a selection committee, strategic planning session or simply a gathering of like-minded individuals, understands Dr. Miller’s servant-leadership skills. When Marilyn speaks, everyone listens. Her thoughts are original, inclusive and principled. Regardless of the stated mission of the group, Dr. Miller is centered on the patient, advancing science and understanding, fostering collaboration and forever mindful of the greater good.
Teratology, international outreach, education, mentorship and leadership are simply a few of the facets which reflect Dr. Miller’s contributions. Just as a gem sparkles because of multiple facets, its true value is a consequence of the whole and the unique beauty and pleasure it brings to others.
For her many contributions, we recognize her for the gem that she is.