The first Ophthalmology Innovation Awards were presented last night at the OIS-X Gala. Here’s a rundown of the award winners.
Clinical Innovator: Ike Ahmed, MD
Dr. Ahmed has been a leader in novel treatments for glaucoma, cataract, and lens implant surgery. His pioneering work in innovative glaucoma surgery includes coining the term microinvasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). An assistant professor at the University of Toronto and a professor at the University of Utah, he is also research director at Kensington Eye Institute and director of the Glaucoma and Advanced Anterior Segment Surgery (GAASS) fellowship, both at the University of Toronto. In addition, Dr. Ahmed is head of the ophthalmology division at Trillium Health Partners, Mississauga, Ontario. He’s recognized as one of the most experienced complex eye surgeons in the world.
Industry Innovator: Eugene de Juan, MD
Dr. de Juan is founder and vice chairman of ForSight Labs in Menlo Park, CA, where he participates as an active inventor and adviser in early stage ophthalmic device opportunities. ForSight Labs describes itself as a place where entrepreneurs and investors work together to drive innovative technologies through concept, development, and ultimately commercialization in high-impact eye care companies. A renowned retinal surgeon, inventor, and entrepreneur, Dr. de Juan splits his time between ForSight Labs and the University of California, San Francisco, where he holds the Jean Kelly Stock Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology. Besides still seeing patients, performing surgery, and teaching at UCSF, Dr. de Juan has helped in the development of more than 100 new technologies and the founding of nine venture-funded companies including Second Sight, InnoRx, NeoVista, and Retina Labs, in addition to ForSight Labs’ first five “VISION” companies: Transcend Medical Inc., founded in 2005; VISION2 (acquired by QLT Inc. in 2007); Nexis Vision Inc. (formerly ForSight VISION3 Inc.), founded in 2007; ForSight VISION4 Inc., founded in 2009; and ForSight VISION5 Inc., founded in 2010. He holds patents on over 60 medical devices and is responsible for more than 250 academic publications.
Dealmaker of the Year: Apellis Pharmaceuticals
Apellis Pharmaceuticals was honored for its 2017 initial public offering. CEO Cedric Francois, MD, PhD, accepted the award. Last year, Apellis sold out its IPO of 10.7 million shares of common stock at $14 per share, raising about $150 million, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and expenses payable by Apellis. All of the shares were sold by Apellis. The shares started trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “APLS” almost one year ago. Since then, the company sold out another public offering of 5.5 million shares of common stock at $25.50 per share, raising about $140.3 million. In the summer, the Food and Drug Administration granted Apellis fast-track designation for APL-2, its novel complement factor C3 inhibitor for treatment of geographic atrophy. Apellis plans to initiate a Phase III trial for patients with GA later this year.
Clinical Rising Star: Elizabeth Yeu, MD
Dr.Yeu, a partner at Virginia Eye Consultants in eastern Virginia, is also an assistant professor at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. She is the medical director of the Virginia Surgery Center and sits on the board of directors for the Virginia Eye Foundation. Dr.Yeu provides guidance and governance across several national medical boards and committees, including as an examiner for the American Board of Ophthalmology. She’s authored numerous articles and frequently lectures on refractive cataract surgery, anterior segment reconstruction, ocular surface disease management, and surgical management of astigmatism. She is editor-in-chief of US Ophthalmic Review and serves as the medical editor of the digital journal, Millennial Eye.
Industry Rising Star: Yari Mitchell
Yari Mitchell, VP of global medical affairs and business strategy at AcuFocus, has risen through the ranks since joining the company in 2007. In her current role, she oversees medical affairs, education, and training in addition to all levels of external communication including press briefings and investor relations. She is a core member of the business development team responsible for raising nearly $100 million. During her 15-plus years in the global eye care industry, Mitchell has been a key member of the teams launching innovative vision technologies such as wavefront-guided ablation and presbyopia-correcting intraocular lenses (IOL). She is a former president and member of the board of directors of Ophthalmic World Leaders.
Game Changer Award: RxSight
RxSight received the award for its Light Adjustable Lens. CEO Ron Kurtz, MD, accepted the award on behalf of the company. RxSight received FDA approval for the RxSight Light Adjustable Lens and the Light Delivery Device (LDD) for patients with pre-existing astigmatism of ≥ 0.75 D undergoing cataract surgery. RxSight’s Light Adjustable Lens is the first and only FDA-approved IOL that can be adjusted postoperatively to improve uncorrected visual acuity.
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