Moran Eye Center Congratulates Cecinio “Nikko” Ronquillo, Jr., MD, PhD, Recipient of the 2016 Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholar Award

Nov 09, 2015 9:00 AM


ARCS Scholar Award

Pictured above: CeCe Foxley, former Utah Commissioner of Higher Education and ARCS Utah Chapter Founding President presented Dr. Nikko Ronquillo with the Randall J Olson Scholar award of 15,000 in Dr. Olson’s honor.

Dr. Nikko Ronquillo, who recently joined Moran’s residency program, was presented with the 2016 ARCS Foundation’s Randall J Olson Scholar Award at a luncheon at the Moran Eye Center on October 22, 2015. The award includes $15,000 from ARCS and a matching $15,000 award from Moran to enable Ronquillo to continue research during his residency.

 Nikko's Research

Since 2010, he has worked alongside Moran’s world-renowned biochemist and researcher Dr. Wolfgang Baehr. During this time, Ronquillo became the acknowledged expert on Senior-Loken Syndrome (SLS), a rare inherited disease that strikes kids as young as seven with subtle symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa, a blinding eye disease. As the first MD/PhD student to receive an F31 grant from the National Institutes of Health, he was able to fund his proposal to create a new animal model to delve deeper into SLS. Ronquillo has since created a gene-therapy model and is collaborating with the National Eye Institute and an SLS family carrying the genetic mutation to research stem-cell therapy.

About Nikko

Originally from Manila, Philippines, Ronquillo moved to the United States to pursue his studies in 2001. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Toledo with a BS in Biology and Chemistry and received his MD/PhD at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Because of Moran’s unique philosophy, Ronquillo will be able to continue his SLS research throughout his residency: “Residents who have a strong research interest are given protected research time one-half day each week, and they have time to publish and to tailor their own training,” said Jeff Pettey, MD, Moran Residency Program Director. “Ophthalmology is more than just a career—it is a lifestyle; it is a passion,” said Barbara Wirostko, MD, Moran Resident Research Coordinator. “And research is much more than just being at a bench—this is how we are trying to guide our residents.”

About ARCS

Committed to advancing science and technology in the United States, the ARCS foundation provides financial awards to academically outstanding US citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering, and medical research. Only US universities whose departments are ranked in the top 100 in the country are eligible to receive ARCS Foundation Scholar Awards. The Moran Eye Center ranks 18th among ophthalmology departments in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-2016 survey.

Nkkko and Kathie Miller

Dr. Ronquillo; Kathie Miller, one of the underwriters of Ronquillo’s ARCS Award; and Dr. Randall J Olson, Professor and Chair, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and CEO of the Moran Eye Center.

Pettey and Nikko

Dr. Jeff Pettey, Moran Residency Program Director, and Dr. Nikko Ronquillo.

Nikko and Laura Springhetti

Dr. Nikko Ronquillo, MD, PhD; Laura Springhetti, CRNA, Nurse Anesthetist, Moran Eye Center and VA Medical Center and ARCS Utah Chapter President; and Dr. Barbara Wirostko, MD, Moran Resident Research Coordinator.

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