Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, to Receive ARVO’s Mildred Weisenfeld Award

Apr 15, 2018 9:00 AM

ME_Hartnett_Headshot.jpgThe Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) has chosen John A. Moran Eye Center surgeon and researcher Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, as the recipient of its 2018 Mildred Weisenfeld Award.

The honor recognizes distinguished scholarly contributions to the clinical practice of ophthalmology in memory of Weisenfeld, who suffered from retinitis pigmentosa and founded the Fight for Sight charity in 1946 to fund eye and vision research.

A skilled pediatric vitreoretinal surgeon and prolific researcher, Hartnett’s National Institutes of Health-funded research lab studies the mechanisms of normal and aberrant blood vessel formation in the eye. Her work has led to major breakthroughs in our understanding of

  • retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), the leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide;
  • age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. among adults that attacks central vision; and
  • diabetic eye disease, which can affect multiple parts of the eye and is on the rise along with the rate of diabetes

At ARVO’s annual meeting held in late April, Hartnett will present the Weisenfeld lecture, entitled “Discovering Mechanisms in the Changing and Diverse Pathology of ROP.” The lecture features her work to understand vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling, which stimulates the formation of both normal and abnormal blood vessels, and how this has translated to current clinical trials using anti-VEGF agents. A recent study by Hartnett suggests a more targeted approach to the use of anti-VEGF therapies for ROP.

Hartnett will also describe the need for optimal models to assess pathophysiology and protective mechanisms to prevent ROP, and she is a collaborator on the poster, Characterization of Retinal Structure in ATF6-Associated Achromatopsia. 

Members of Hartnett’s lab will present additional posters:

  • Endothelial Cell STAT3 Knockdown Inhibits Intravitreal Neovascularization in a Model of Oxygen Induced Retinopathy
  • A3ID – Automated Avascular Area Identification in an Oxygen-Induced Retinopathy Model
  • Knockdown of Endothelial Cell VEGFR2 Reduces Intravitreal Neovascularization in a Model of Retinopathy of Prematurity
  • Serine Phosphorylation of IQGAP1 Regulates VEGF-Mediated Rac1 Activation and Choroidal Endothelial Cell Migration
  • Characterization of Retinal Structure in ATF6-Associated Achromatopsia

Hartnett’s work has been widely recognized in her field. She received the 2016 Macula Society Paul Henkind Award and the 2014 Women in Ophthalmology Honorary Lecture Award and the Scientific Contribution Award.

Hartnett is chair-elect of ARVO’s Publications Committee and has served as chair of the organization’s Ethics and Regulations in Human Research Committee and as member and chair of its Program Committee of Retinal Cell Biology. She is the former chair of the NIH Center for Scientific Review Study Section on Diseases and Pathophysiology of the Visual System and a former national member of the American Diabetes Association’s Research Policy Committee.

Hartnett serves on the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Scientific Advisory Board and the editorial boards of PlosOne, Molecular Vision, and the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Hartnett is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Silver and Gold Fellow of ARVO. She was recently asked to serve as the medical director of Women’s Eye Health.

In 2019, Hartnett will direct the Advances in Pediatric Retina Course, gathering top surgeons from around the globe to discuss advances in diagnosis and surgical management of a wide spectrum of pediatric retinal diseases. She is editor-in –chief of the textbook, Pediatric Retina.

vision research retinopathy of prematurity