November 2006
Volume 47, Issue 11
Lecture  |   November 2006
Introducing Evangelos S. Gragoudas, the 2006 Recipient of the Weisenfeld Award
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science November 2006, Vol.47, 4665. doi:
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      Joan W. Miller; Introducing Evangelos S. Gragoudas, the 2006 Recipient of the Weisenfeld Award. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(11):4665.

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It is an honor and a privilege for me to introduce Dr. Evangelos S. Gragoudas, the 2006 recipient of the Mildred Weisenfeld Award. Dr. Gragoudas has made important contributions to the retina field that have changed clinical practice and improved outcomes for patients with blinding and life-threatening disease. His no-nonsense approach and his insight are greatly appreciated by his colleagues and trainees alike. Dr. Gragoudas exemplifies the qualifications of the Weisenfeld Award, which recognizes “distinguished scholarly contributions to the clinical practice of ophthalmology.” 
Born in Greece, Dr. Gragoudas completed his medical training in Athens and his ophthalmology residency at Boston University School of Medicine, followed by fellowship training under Dr. Charles Schepens. In 1975 he joined the Retina Service of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and in 1985 became the Director of the service and the fellowship. Under his direction, the Retina Service has grown into a premier clinical service, with recognized experts in many areas of retina studies, and with an ambitious clinical and research program. In 1994 Dr. Gragoudas was promoted to Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and he has served with distinction as acting Chief and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. 
During his fellowship, Dr. Gragoudas began work on proton beam irradiation for uveal melanoma, performing preclinical studies in monkeys and performing the first clinical studies in patients. These studies demonstrated the safety and utility of this approach as a rational alternative to enucleation; and now, with more than 10 years of follow-up of more than 3,000 patients, proton beam irradiation clearly has the lowest local melanoma recurrence rate of any of the radiation therapies. To date, 12 proton beam facilities for the treatment of melanomas have been established in North America, Europe, South Africa, and Japan, and more than 12,000 patients have been treated worldwide. Dr. Gragoudas is considered a world authority on the diagnosis and management of intraocular tumors and along with refining proton beam therapy, his group investigates the epidemiology, genetics, and molecular biology of uveal melanoma to develop improved methods of diagnosis and treatment. 
Dr. Gragoudas has had a long-standing interest in photodynamic therapy for the treatment of intraocular tumors and ocular neovascularization. We worked together on the preclinical studies of photodynamic therapy (PDT) using verteporfin for choroidal neovascularization. Verteporfin PDT was the first pharmacologic therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to be approved and introduced in North America and is now used throughout the world. Dr. Gragoudas helped design and execute the clinical studies that demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of verteporfin PDT for choroidal neovascularization in AMD and pathologic myopia. 
Working with Dr. Anthony Adamis and me, Dr. Gragoudas investigated the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Our group was among the first to demonstrate that VEGF is associated with pathologic neovascularization, that VEGF is sufficient to produce neovascularization, and that inhibition of VEGF can prevent it. This work formed the basis of the clinical development of anti-VEGF therapy, including pegaptanib and ranibizumab, both of which hold great promise for patients with neovascular AMD and clearly demonstrate the utility of antiangiogenic therapy. 
Dr. Gragoudas has received many honors for his work, including the Retina Research Award of the Club Jules Gonin, and honorary doctorates from the University of Athens and the University of Patras in Greece. He was awarded the Senior Scientific Investigator Award by Research to Prevent Blindness and the Donald Gass Medal and the Arnall Patz Medal by the Macula Society and is an honorary member of the Fondazione G. B. Bietti. 
Perhaps Dr. Gragoudas’ most outstanding characteristic is his ability as a teacher and mentor. He has trained more than 100 clinical retina fellows, many of whom have gone on to leadership roles as clinician scientists, academic and clinical leaders, and leaders and innovators in industry. He is generous, patient, and insightful. He is always willing to discuss an idea, review a difficult case, or edit an abstract or a manuscript. He enjoys the success of those he has trained and mentored. 
Dr. Gragoudas is truly a man to admire: an innovator who has changed the practice of ophthalmology, a superb clinician, a great teacher, a wonderful colleague, and a loyal friend. My introduction would be incomplete without noting the foundation of his professional achievements: his family, including Lia, his wife of 38 years, and their two sons, Stelios and Nicholas. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas to present the 2006 Mildred Weisenfeld Award Lecture. 

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