Moran Physician Scientist Working to Save Eyesight of Premature Babies Wins Prestigious $50,000 Award

May 13, 2019 11:45 AM


Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, holds a favorite photo of Aidan, a youngster from Trinidad and Tobago she has treated for years for retinopathy of prematurity.
Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, holds a favorite photo of Aidan, a youngster from Trinidad and Tobago she has treated for years for retinopathy of prematurity.

John A. Moran Eye Center researcher Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, will receive the 2019 Paul Kayser/Retina Research Foundation Global Award later this month for her efforts to develop a better treatment for the leading cause of childhood vision loss and blindness.

The award, bestowed once every two years, recognizes a vision scientist who has made a significant new contribution to knowledge about improving vision and prevention of blindness. It includes a $20,000 honoraria for Hartnett, founder and director of Moran’s Pediatric Retina Center, and $30,000 for Moran.

Seeking Better Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity 

Hartnett’s National Institutes of Health-funded laboratory has made recent breakthroughs related to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a blinding disorder that affects premature infants and is characterized by abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye.

The current treatment for ROP is problematic since it can also inhibit the development of a child’s retina. But Hartnett has identified a possible new treatment path that would inhibit abnormal blood vessel growth while allowing the retina to continue to develop with no loss of function.

Latest Honors

The award is the latest in a string of honors for Hartnett. Earlier this year, she was appointed to the University of Utah rank of distinguished professor and received the Macula Society’s Arnall Patz Medal.

Hartnett was also recently appointed the Calvin S. and JeNeal N. Hatch Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology by University of Utah President Ruth Watkins and is a new member of the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) advisory council. She has also joined the editorial board of the American Journal of Ophthalmology and was elected to serve as a Vice President (Americas) of the International Society for Eye Research.

Hartnett will receive the Paul Kayser/RRF Global Award on May 25 at the opening ceremony of the Pan-American Congress of Ophthalmology in Cancun, Mexico.

vision research awards retinopathy of prematurity