The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA), the nation’s oldest transplant association, has chosen Jonathan Lass for the 2012 R. Townley Paton Award for his work on corneal preservation and his 30-plus-year career as an ophthalmologist and medical educator.
Lass is the Charles I Thomas Professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center, and director of the UH Eye Institute. Lass also is medical director for the Cleveland Eye Bank and medical director of the Case Cornea Image Analysis Reading Center.
Over the past fiscal year, Case Western Reserve rose from 11th in the nation to fifth in vision research funding from the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the National Institutes of Health. Case Western Reserve receives almost $15 million annually from the NEI.
This success is due, in part, to the efforts of Krzysztof Palczewski, the chair of the Department of Pharmacology, who also holds an appointment in ophthalmology and is internationally renowned for his work toward restoring sight in those whose blindness relates to diseases of the retina. Faculty from other departments, including medicine and pathology, also conduct vision-related research.
The eye bank organization presented the Paton Award, its highest honor, during the EBAA/Cornea Society Fall Educational Symposium in Chicago Nov. 9. The award is presented annually to an ophthalmologist in recognition of outstanding contributions to the EBAA’s development, and for exemplifying the precepts of Paton, considered the father of modern eye-banking and the founder of the first eye bank established in the United States.
As the recipient, Lass delivered the Paton lecture at the EBAA symposium.
The Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and UH Visual Sciences Research Center has more than 40 investigators across 10 disciplines working on translational research. Major areas of research include cataract, corneal inflammation and infections, diabetic retinopathy, genetic eye diseases, macular degeneration and other retinal degenerations.
The department also is home to the Retinal Disease Image Analysis Reading Center and the Cornea Image Analysis Reading Center, which provide imaging data for federal and corporate clinical trials across the country.