The Lighthouse Guild has awarded Russell Van Gelder, MD, PhD, the 2017 Bressler Prize for his outstanding work in visual science research.
“It is a privilege and an honor to receive this prestigious award from Lighthouse Guild. As a scientist and an ophthalmologist, I am committed to transforming the work of the laboratory into new treatments for children and adults with vision loss. I am truly honored and humbled to join the very distinguished group of vision scientists who have previously won the Bressler Prize. I look forward to continuing to work with others in the field to advance vision science research,” said Dr. Van Gelder.
Dr. Van Gelder is a past president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and is the Boyd K. Bucey Memorial Chair, Professor and Department Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Van Gelder has advanced research on non-visual photoreception, an unconventional kind of light-sensitivity sometimes described as sensing light without sight.
His research team has used field sleep recording techniques to demonstrate that blind children with loss of optic nerve function display substantial dysregulation of circadian rhythm, whereas blind children with intact optic nerves show substantially less sleep disruption. More recently, his team is investigating use of photoswitch chemicals that can be modulated by visible light as an approach to reverse blindness from outer retinal degeneration. This technology is one of the most exciting therapeutic discoveries in recent years, noted the Lighthouse Guild in its announcement.
“Dr. Van Gelder is being recognized for his remarkable accomplishments and the significant impact of his research,” said Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President and CEO of Lighthouse Guild. “His wealth of knowledge has made him a luminary in vision science."
In addition to receiving numerous scientific awards and honors, Dr. Van Gelder has written for more than 170 publications, including multiple papers in the most competitive journals, such as Science, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Genetics, and PNAS.