UH News

Pioneer in Corneal Surgery Receives Cornea Society’s Highest Honor

Monday, December 19, 2016

Jonathan Lass, MD, awarded Castroviejo Medal for advancing the field of cornea transplantation

CLEVELAND – The Cornea Society has awarded Jonathan Lass, MD, the Castroviejo Medal, its highest honor. Dr. Lass, an ophthalmologist at University Hospitals Eye Institute at UH Cleveland Medical Center and Charles I Thomas Professor of Ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine receives the award in recognition of his lifetime contributions to research and advancements in corneal transplant and surgery.

“Dr. Lass has made a significant impact in our field and how we assess controversies in corneal surgery. He has been instrumental in the development, implementation and interpretation of numerous multicenter trials that have moved the field of corneal transplantation forward,” said Cornea Society President Marian S. Macsai, MD, in a Cornea Society press release announcing the award. “Dr. Lass has standardized the way we review specular microscopy through the development of the Cornea Image Analysis Reading Center (CIARC) and as a result improved our evaluation of corneal endothelial cells. Dr. Lass was paramount in the success of the Cornea Donor Study and the Cornea Preservation Time Study. The Board of Directors of the Cornea Society unanimously chose Dr. Lass as the 2017 recipient of the Castroviejo Medal.”

The Castroviejo Medal is named in honor of Ramon Castroviejo, the father of modern corneal transplant surgery and the inspiration for the founding of the Cornea Society. It is awarded annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of cornea and anterior segment surgery. The recipient is invited to deliver the prestigious keynote lecture at the Cornea Society Annual Meeting in the fall.

Dr. Lass is a nationally recognized specialist in corneal diseases and corneal transplantation. He directs the UH Cornea Image Analysis Reading Center, one of the top cornea image analysis centers in the country. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 publications, and coordinated many multi-institutional trials to add to the body of knowledge about eye donation and cornea viability.

Dr. Lass is the former Chair of Ophthalmology at UH Cleveland Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He served as one of the study leads on the National Eye Institute (NEI) sponsored Cornea Donor Study, the first masked, randomized, controlled study to demonstrate that donor age has no impact on the success of the transplant for 80 percent of recipients, eliminating a common bias against corneas from older donors. Currently, he serves as the principal investigator on an NEI-sponsored national multi-center, masked, randomized trial to determine the optimal time frame for usage of donated corneas, the Cornea Preservation Time Study.

He attributes his recognition in the field to the outstanding teams involved in this work. “Our dedicated team at University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University, as well as the clinical investigation teams around the country are doing the real and important work of these trials: Asking the important questions about eye banking and corneal transplantation,” he said.

Dr. Lass earned his MD from Boston University School of Medicine in Boston and completed an ophthalmology residency at Boston Medical Center. He completed a fellowship in cornea and external diseases at Harvard’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Schepens Eye Research Institute.

Dr. Lass has been recognized by several other national organizations, including as the recipient of the Senior Honor Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2004 and the prestigious R. Townley Paton award from the Eye Bank Association of America in 2012--the highest honor for a corneal surgeon, from the other leading cornea organization in the United States. Dr. Lass is one of only 12 people in the field to ever receive both the Castroviejo Medal and the Paton award since the Castroviejo medal was established by the Cornea Society in 1975.

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