The Chair’s Perspective

U-M Kellogg Eye Center leadership team

Front row: Roni Shtein, M.D., medical director of the Kellogg ORs; Denise John, M.D., director of VA Hospital Eye Care; Back row: Thiran Jayasundera, M.D., director of strategic planning; Michael Smith-Wheelock, M.D., associate chair for  clinical affairs; Paul Lee, M.D., J.D., chair; Thomas Gardner, M.D., M.S., associate chair for research; and Shahzad Mian, M.D. associate chair for education (Not pictured: Alan Sugar, M.D, vice chair)

Dear Friends,

I’m pleased to update you on the achievements of the faculty, trainees and staff of the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, as we continue to work together to successfully treat, cure and prevent eye disease. In this year’s report, we highlight not only the laboratory and clinical research of individual faculty and future leaders but also the important contributions of our clinical and research teams. 

Among the advances of this past year is a promising new treatment for Graves’ eye disease. Based on years of laboratory research into its root causes, Dr. Terry Smith led the clinical trial that offers hope for the first targeted, non-surgical treatment for thyroid eye disease. A follow-up trial is underway to further test the effectiveness of teprotumumab, which had been designated by the FDA as a “breakthrough” drug. 

The commitment of Michigan Medicine to growing clinical trials support has helped enhance our Kellogg clinical  trials unit. Our ophthalmology biostatistical support unit—one of the largest in the world—designs, coordinates and analyzes the results of clinical studies. 

Recent approval of the first gene therapy for an inherited form of blindness—attained after years of clinical research by Spark Therapeutics—signals a new era in the field of gene therapy. Our retinal dystrophy group is actively pursuing their own innovative approaches in this area—teaming up with colleagues from institutions here and abroad. 

Before patients can enter a trial or benefit  from breakthrough treatment, they need an accurate diagnosis. Our ophthalmic ultrasound team, led by Dr. Bernadete Ayres, can provide invaluable insights for challenging clinical presentations. Dr. Yannis Paulus and colleagues in Michigan engineering are combining sound and light energy for early disease detection and enhanced treatment of diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. 

A major challenge in assessing the benefits of new treatments is the need for measures that better track patient success. The work of two K23 awardees, Drs. Thiran Jayasundera and Joshua Ehrlich, each working with mentoring teams, are developing new tools to achieve this end. 

Often young investigators create the basis for therapies to be tested in the future. In this report, you’ll learn more about the distinct experiences of a residency alumnus, Dr. Anthony Adamis, and a current faculty member, Dr. David Zacks. 

The leadership of teams is critical to the success of our endeavors to address the challenges we face in eye care. Among our faculty and alumni are recipients of national awards for their contributions to patient care, research and education as well as leaders of important state and national societies, such as the Michigan Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Costenbader Society. 

Our accomplishments reflect the dedication and perseverance of our faculty, staff and trainees. Without the support of our donors—patients of Kellogg and patients of Kellogg alumni among them—we could not achieve our goals. All of us working together as a team will lead to more amazing progress and discoveries.

Paul P. Lee, M.D., J.D.
F. Bruce Fralick Professor and Chair, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Director, W.K. Kellogg Eye Center