News Release: Emory Healthcare , School of Medicine

Sep. 14,  2010

Emory Eye Center Ophthalmologist Honored with Straatsma Award

News Article ImageMaria M. Aaron, MD

Maria M. Aaron, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Emory Eye Center and associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine, has won the prestigious Straatsma Award for Excellence in Resident Education. The eighth annual award was conferred by the presidents of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO).

Dr. Aaron’s dedication to the principles and significance of residency education and her accomplishments in that field are truly worthy of this award, say Susan H. Day, MD, president of AUPO, and Randolph L. Johnston, MD, president of AAO.

“Maria Aaron has truly earned this award. She has spent the past decade devoted to the rigorous task of leading the Emory residency training program. The Straatsma Award represents the highest distinction for ophthalmology program directors in the nation,” says Timothy W. Olsen, MD, director of Emory Eye Center. “This is truly a tremendous honor for her.”

The Straatsma Award was established through the funding of AAO, AUPO and private funds. The award honors the achievements of Bradley R. Straatsma, MD, JD, former chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA and former director of the Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles. The purpose of the award is to recognize the critical role of the program director and to celebrate his or her contributions. The award will be presented in October during AAO’s annual meeting in Chicago.

Aaron served as Emory Eye Center’s Residency Program director from 1999 to 2010, during which time she trained and mentored more than 70 residents and 30 medical students. She is actively involved in Graduate Medical Education (GME) at Emory University and serves on the GME Documents Review Committee, which provides oversight for all program accreditation at Emory.

She is a sought-after speaker, particularly for residency program director sessions on a variety of GME topics. During her tenure as EEC’s residency program director, the Ophthalmology Residency Program at Emory received two successive five-year accredited reviews by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

On a national level, Aaron served as president of the Program Directors’ Council of AUPO (2008) and currently serves as the vice chair of the Ophthalmology Residency Review Committees for the ACGME. She has received an Achievement Award from the AAO and is an associate examiner for the American Board of Ophthalmology’s Oral Board Examination.

As president of the AUPO Program Director Council, Aaron helped establish ophthalmology’s position on the Institute of Medicine Duty-Hours Recommendations and future changes in the application process for ophthalmology applicants. She currently is involved in the working group for the development of the ACGME Milestones and the assessment of these milestones via the Portfolio Project.

Aaron earned her medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She completed her internship at Georgia Baptist Medical Center, Atlanta, and her residency in Ophthalmology at Emory Eye Center. Upon completion of her residency, Aaron was appointed to a faculty position in Comprehensive Ophthalmology at Emory and became the Residency Program director in 1999. Since 2000, she has been the chief of service in ophthalmology at Emory University Hospital Midtown.

She has published a number of articles and chapters on topics related to residency education and has lectured widely at national ophthalmic meetings on a variety of important competency and accreditation topics. Her most recent interest is in the area of generational differences in academic medicine.


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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