The Father of Modern Corneal Science Awarded the 2022 António Champalimaud Vision Prize

Claes H. Dohlman, MD, PhD, whose pioneering research at Mass Eye and Ear and in the The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology forever changed the way corneal conditions are understood and treated, has been awarded the 2022 António Champalimaud Vision Award for broad contributions to vision research.

Dr. Dohlman, born in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1922 and educated at Lund University and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, received the award along with fellow 2022 Champalimaud Laureate, Gerrit RJ Melles, MD, PhD, Founder of the Netherlands Institute. for Innovative Ocular Surgery (NIIOS) and the Melles Cornea Clinic in Rotterdam.

The winners were honored on September 15, 2022 at a ceremony held at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal. The award has a prize of €1,000,000 ($1,000,000) which is shared among the winners and will be used to further their research.

Created in 2006, the Champalimaud Vision Award, presented by the Portugal-based Champalimaud Foundation, is the highest distinction awarded in ophthalmology and vision science, carrying one of the greatest prizes in scientific research. The prize, which is considered the “Nobel Prize for Vision”, is awarded once a year, alternating between contributions to research in the field of vision (even years) and contributions to the relief of vision problems , mainly in developing countries (odd years). years).

This is the second time Harvard Ophthalmology researchers have received this prestigious honor; the institution is the only department of ophthalmology to have won the award twice and has the highest number of Champalimaud winners to date. In 2014, six HMS researchers won the António Champalimaud Vision Prize for their contributions to identifying vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as the main trigger of angiogenesis in the eye, which underlies the pathology of various blinding retinal disorders, including age-related macular degeneration. and diabetic retinopathy, leading to the development of new anti-VEGF treatments for these diseases.

“It is an incredible honor for our researchers to once again be recognized with the Champalimaud Vision Award. The work of Dr. Dohlman in particular has not only transformed the course of corneal science over the past century, but has also directly impacted countless people through his innovations and discoveries,” said Joan W. Miller, MD, 2014 Champalimaud Vision Award recipient and chief of ophthalmology at Mass Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital, ophthalmologist in Chief at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Professor of Ophthalmology David Glendenning Cogan at HMS.” The hundreds of corneal specialists who were fortunate to be trained by Dr. Dohlman carry on his lasting legacy working on a shared mission with the Champalimaud Foundation, to develop therapies that will benefit billions of people and one day eradicate corneal blindness en.

The father of modern corneal science celebrated for his seminal contributions

Dr. Dohlman, Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology and former Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at HMS, is internationally recognized as the founder of modern corneal science. During his seven-decade career at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear and Harvard Ophthalmology, Dr. Dohlman conducted research in corneal physiology that laid the foundation for clinical practice in dry eye, burns corneas and wound healing. , corneal transplant and keratoprosthesis. As a result, his work has helped improve the vision and lives of millions of people around the world.

Dr. Dohlman, who turned 100 on September 11, is the inventor of the Boston Keratoprosthesis (Boston KPro or Boston Cornea), an artificial cornea that benefits patients who cannot receive a standard corneal transplant. It has since become the most widely used artificial cornea, restoring sight to more than 15,000 patients in the United States and 52 countries around the world.

A prolific researcher, Dr. Dohlman has published nearly 400 scientific papers and presented more than 40 named conferences around the world. His educational contributions are limitless. He was the first to create a formal structured corneal fellowship program and has trained more than 200 corneal specialists – more than any ophthalmologist in the world – many of whom have gone on to become professors and department heads of ophthalmology and continue to train future generations of corneal specialists. .

As part of the award, Dr. Dohlman will present a special lecture at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2023 Annual Meeting, taking place April 23-27 in New Orleans, New Orleans. Louisiana.

Our sincere congratulations to Dr. Dohlman for receiving this prestigious award. Dr. Dohlman has been a valued member of ARVO for over 40 years with a body of work that is beyond impressive. We look forward to his lecture next year as his contributions continue to influence us and guide the next generation of scholars.”


Hans E. Grossniklaus, MD, MBA, ARVO President

Founder of Mass Eye and Ear Cornea Service

In 1964, Dr. Dohlman established the cornea department at Mass Eye and Ear-; the world’s first superspecialized cornea clinic. Under the leadership of Dr. Dohlman and his successor and former mentee Reza Dana, MD, MSc, MPH, Claes H. Dohlman Professor of Ophthalmology at HMS, the service has grown to become one of the largest and most renowned in the world. Service members continue to be at the forefront of major medical and surgical advancements in the field. Their translational research and clinical innovations have led to new treatments for corneal disorders, including stem cell transplantation, ocular surface reconstruction, and lamellar keratoplasty.

“Dr. Dohlman’s indelible contributions to the field of corneal science are evident in his basic research, which is still widely used today in scientific discovery and patient care,” said Dr. Dana, Vice President University Programs for Harvard Ophthalmology and Director of Cornea and Refractive Surgery at Mass Eye and Ear, and Co-Director of the Harvard Ophthalmology Cornea Center of Excellence. Dr. Dana is an internationally recognized clinician-scientist and a leader in the field of ocular immunology. “This award is well-deserved recognition of his many accomplishments in advancing the field, as well as his trainees and inventions that continue to have a major impact on patient care today.”

Cornea Center of Excellence, a hub for research advances and innovation

Corneal blindness is one of the leading causes of vision loss, according to the World Health Organization. Conditions affecting the cornea are complex in their epidemiology and include a range of inflammatory, infectious and genetic eye diseases that cause scarring on the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye which is the main structure for focusing light and serves as barrier protection against injury and microbial pathogens.

The Harvard Ophthalmology Cornea Center of Excellence, led by Dr. Dana and Ula Jurkunas, MD, brings together one of the largest groups of scientists and physicians in the world to advance understanding of corneal biology, develop treatments for conditions corneas and improve access to sight. life-saving treatments.

Over the past two decades, these researchers have been at the forefront of advances including: Identifying molecular clues, including the role of oxidative stress, in the pathogenesis of Fuchs’ corneal endothelial dystrophy; identify the molecular and cellular immune basis of dry eye, including the role of interleukin-17; develop and optimize drug-eluting contact lenses that enter clinical trials; receive Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a new corneal stem cell culture method for ocular surface reconstruction, and perform the first such surgery to harvest healthy stem cells from an eye and transfer them to an eye damaged by corneal burns.

Additionally, researchers continue to refine the Boston KPro. James Chodosh, MD, MPH, who spent 14 years at Mass Eye and Ear and HMS, most recently as Vice President of Education for Harvard Ophthalmology and Associate Director of Corneal Surgery and refraction, before joining the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences as its inaugural chair of ophthalmology this month, invented and patented a new low-cost keratoprosthesis – the “Lucia” – to combat corneal blindness in low-resource countries. Researchers are also studying and testing new formulations of the Boston KPro, including a titanium modification to improve it aesthetically, and they are actively learning how to better prevent postoperative glaucoma after corneal damage has been treated with the device.

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