News Release: Emory Healthcare , Research , School of Medicine

Mar. 25,  2010

Macula Society Presents Young Investigator Award to Timothy Olsen

Emory Eye Center Director Timothy W. Olsen, MD, F. Phinizy Calhoun Sr. Professor of Ophthalmology, recently received the 2010 Macula Society Young Investigator Award at the 33rd annual meeting of the Macula Society.

Founded in 1977, the Macula Society is a forum for new research in retinal vascular and macular diseases. The macula is the center of the retina, responsible for the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving, recognizing faces, and seeing fine detail.

The Young Investigator Award (formerly the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award) is presented to an individual or group of individuals younger than age 50 whose work gives promise of notable advance in the clinical treatment of disorders of the eye. As the award recipient, Olsen presented the keynote lecture: "The Role of Mitochondria in the Aging Macula."

The award was presented by Jennifer Lim, MD, professor of ophthalmology, and director of the Retina Service at the Eye and Ear Infirmary, University of Illinois.

"Dr. Olsen's research work on proteomics of AMD hold great promise in the future management and treatment of AMD," says Lim. "He is already a respected scholar in the field, a funded researcher, a recognized educator and an excellent clinician. It was my pleasure to present him this award at the recent Macula Society meeting."

Prior to joining Emory, Olsen served as professor of ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota, having joined in 1998. He held the William H. Knobloch Retina Chair and served as the director of Retina and director of the Minnesota Lions Macular Degeneration Center at the university, established in 1998 under his leadership. While in Minnesota, he recruited a proteomic biochemist and collaborator, Deborah Ferrington, who studies the relationship of proteins in aging.

"We are extremely pleased that the innovative work of Dr. Olsen has been recognized by the academic leadership of the Macula Society," says Thomas J. Lawley, MD, dean of the Emory School of Medicine. "He is a role-model physician-scientist and translational researcher. Dr. Olsen works very hard in his role as chairman, provides high-quality direct patient care and simultaneously investigates basic mechanisms in complex disease processes, specifically age-related macular degeneration. His works exemplifies physician-led, team science and successful collaboration."

Research conducted by Olsen on the proteins of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) using the Minnesota Grading System (MGS) has won awards internationally. His lecture at the Macula Society emphasized the role of the mitochondria in the aging macula. Specifically, Olsen's proteomic work suggests that the mitochondria (energy producing parts of the cell) control some key oxidative response pathways involved in the early stages of AMD.

"I'm deeply humbled to be given the opportunity to present our work and to receive such a prestigious award from the leaders in the field of macular disease," says Olsen. "I'm a firm believer in team science and collaboration. This lecture provided an opportunity to share the combined hard work of many, very bright and talented individuals."

Olsen was selected in 2008 to become the seventh chair of ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine, following his predecessor, teacher and mentor, Thomas M. Aaberg Sr, MD. Emory's ophthalmology program has a long and well-established presence in Atlanta, tracing its roots back to 1872 in the Atlanta Medical College.

Emory Eye Center has a mission to conduct pioneering research into blinding eye diseases, to educate and train eye professionals, and to provide excellent patient care. The department includes 33 ophthalmologists, eight optometrists, 11 basic scientists, 11 post-doctoral fellows, and nine researchers in other Emory departments who hold joint appointments in the Emory University School of medicine's Department of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology research is supported by current National Institutes of Health funding of $20 million through 2010. The Department remains in the top rankings (#9 - 2009) by U.S. News & World Report for the 14 years the magazine has held a ranking for ophthalmology. It also ranks in the top 10 in the peer-reviewed Ophthalmology Times annual report.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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