Wills Eye Hospital Presents Four Inaugural Awards at Gala Celebrating Renowned Retina Service and New Era in Vision Research

 Awards were presented to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney; Thomas Jefferson University President and Jefferson Health CEO, Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA; Benefactor Steven H. Korman and Wills Eye Alumnus and Surgeon-Scientist, Jay Duker, MD

Beloved, Late Retina Surgeon is Remembered, His Family Receives Standing Ovation as Hospital Leaders Announce Early Outpouring of Support with Over One Million Dollars Raised for Research Fund in his Name 

November 6, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – Wills Eye Hospital today announced four inaugural awards to honor outstanding leaders and esteemed benefactors were presented at the Wills Eye Ball on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia. The gala celebrated the 60th anniversary and rich legacy of the powerhouse Wills Eye Retina Service and paid tribute to its innovative breakthroughs, best-in-class Fellowship Training Program, patient-centered service, and life- changing impact.

Net proceeds of the Wills Eye Ball benefit the Joseph I. Maguire, MD Retina Research Fund which was established in honor of a respected and beloved Wills Eye physician and researcher who passed away in 2018 at the age of 61. The proceeds of the Eye Ball surpassed one million dollars thanks to the support of many alumni of the retina service, medical staff, benefactors and supporters of Wills Eye Hospital.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney received the James Wills Leadership Award in recognition of the Mayor’s support of Wills Eye Hospital and the Board of Directors of City Trusts, which provides oversight to Wills Eye. Mayor Kenney’s commitment to the Wills Eye mission is an example of his steadfast dedication to improving the quality of life for children and families in Philadelphia and investing in our city’s public education, infrastructure, affordable housing, emergency responses to health crises like the opioid epidemic and – importantly – providing support for free vision screening, glasses and eye care for Philadelphia children so they can see, learn and thrive. The award is named for James Wills Jr., a Quaker merchant who was instrumental in the founding of Wills Eye through his bequest of $116,000 in 1832 to the City of Philadelphia to be used for the indigent and blind.

Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, President of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health and Steven H. Korman, Wills Eye Benefactor, civic leader and Founder of Korman Communities, were each recognized with Strategic Partnership Awards. Dr. Klasko was selected for his visionary leadership in reimagining the intersection of healthcare and higher education and his ongoing support of Thomas Jefferson University’s partnership with Wills Eye Hospital. Wills Eye is an independent ophthalmology hospital and serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Mr. Korman is this year’s Strategic Partnership Award recipient for his support of strong and healthy communities through leadership roles in housing, nutrition, and healthcare initiatives in Philadelphia.

Jay S. Duker, MD, Director of the New England Eye Center and Professor and Chairman for the Department of Ophthalmology at Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine received the Vickie and Jack Farber Vision Research Award in recognition of his significant contributions to vision research. Dr. Duker received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel Medical College), completed his residency and fellowship in vitreo-retinal diseases and ocular oncology at Wills Eye Hospital, and has gone onto become one of the world’s preeminent leaders in academic ophthalmology and, at the forefront of innovations in ocular imaging and therapy.

“The pioneering Retina Service is a core part of Wills Eye Hospital and together, we are so very proud of our rich history of training, clinical care, and research. We look forward to celebrating this milestone 60th year and ushering in this next exciting era in new treatments and cures for patients confronting eye disease in its many forms,” said Carl D. Regillo, MD, FACS, Chief of Retina Service at Wills Eye Hospital.

The Wills Eye Retina Service, which has one of the largest clinical volumes in the nation, is known for its outstanding patient care, research, and distinguished and competitive fellowship program; having trained more than 200 retina leaders around the world. Former fellows are program directors, tenured professors, academic researchers and thought leaders in all parts of the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, South America, Asia and the Middle East.

Dr. Joseph I. Maguire, a beloved member of the Wills family and esteemed physician on the Wills Eye Retina Service since 1990, passed away on November 24, 2018. Dr. Maguire was a major contributor to the Retina Service and Wills Eye Hospital. He led many landmark research initiatives, including serving as principal investigator for a VEGF-trap clinical trial – studying intravitreal vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and the National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) – investigating anti-oxidant prophylaxis of AMD. He was clinical co-investigator in numerous other clinical trials evaluating novel treatments for diabetic retinopathy and AMD. Other basic research included study of the effects of relative hypoxia on macular blood flow and its possible application to retinal and choroidal vascular disease states. Joe authored many journal articles and book chapters over his career. He was editor of the very popular 5-Minute Consult in Ophthalmology, a Co-Editor of the Yearbook of Ophthalmology and a reviewer for the journals Retina, Archives of Ophthalmology, Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology and British Journal of Ophthalmology. A Fellow of the American College of Physicians, he regularly lectured worldwide on the diagnosis and treatment of vitreoretinal disease. Dr. Maguire was an active member of influential medical societies including the Retina Society, American Society of Retinal Specialists, American Academy of Ophthalmology and Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology.  Dr. Maguire’s brilliant medical acumen, his sense of humor, integrity and kindness shaped his personal encounters with his patients and colleagues as fundamentally as his clinical research, scholarly writing, and active engagement in lecturing and teaching impacted the practice of ophthalmology. He is greatly missed.

Emmy Award-winning News Anchor and Reporter Joyce Evans of FOX 29 News will serve as the gala’s Master of Ceremonies. To learn more about the Wills Eye Ball and its honorees, please visit https://www.willseye.org/retina60th/.

About Wills Eye Hospital

Wills Eye Hospital is a global leader in ophthalmology, established in 1832 as the nation’s first hospital specializing in eye care. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Wills Eye as one of America’s top ophthalmology centers since the survey began, has the most nationally ranked ophthalmologists in the country and is the #1 academic training in the USA for its residency program as voted by physicians in the nation. Wills Eye is a premier training site for all levels of medical education. Its resident and post-graduate training programs are among the most competitive in the country. The Vickie and Jack Farber Vision Research Center at Wills harnesses the core strengths of Wills, the close connection between innovative research and advanced patient care, to discover therapeutic breakthroughs. Wills provides the full range of primary and subspecialty eye care for improving and preserving sight, including cataract, cornea, retina, emergency care, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, oculoplastics, pathology, pediatric ophthalmology and ocular genetics, and refractive surgery. Ocular Services include the Wills Laser Correction Center, Low Vision Service, and Diagnostic Center. Its 24/7 Emergency Service is the only one of its kind in the region. Wills Eye also has a network of seven multi-specialty, ambulatory surgery centers throughout the tristate area.