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Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg selected Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair

A world-renowned expert in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with the John A. Moran Eye Center’s Sharon Eccles Steele Center for Translational Medicine (SCTM) will hold a prestigious Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair at the University of Utah.

U President Ruth V. Watkins selected Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg, MD, an adjunct professor who will be joining Moran as a full-time faculty member in 2020, for the chair. The chair is one of 12 recently gifted by the Huntsman Foundation and named after the late business executive and philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman.

Schmitz-Valckenberg co-founded and directs the Grading of Digital Fundus Examination Reading Center and serves as assistant medical director of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Bonn, Germany. Widely considered the authoritative expert in high-resolution retinal and autofluorescence imaging, he has been at the forefront of using a variety of imaging techniques to map the stages of decline in AMD.

Key Role in AMD Treatment Clinical Trial

At Moran in his full-time position, Schmitz-Valckenberg will launch a reading center that will play a key role in the SCTM’s drive to take a new therapy for a prevalent form of AMD into human clinical trials. His accomplishments include contributing to over 165 publications and 99 peer-reviewed articles. Honors include being named by The Ophthalmologist to its Power List 2017: Top 50 Rising Stars.

“We are deeply grateful to the Huntsman Foundation and the University for supporting our mission to bring hope, understanding, and treatment to people with blinding conditions, eye diseases, and visual impairments,” said Randall J Olson, MD, Moran CEO and professor and chair of the University of Utah Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “Dr. Schmitz-Valckenberg is an integral part of our effort to take a new treatment for AMD into clinical trials, and we believe his groundbreaking work in imaging and our new reading center will be a beacon of hope for patients all over the world as we continue to develop new treatments.”

About the Moran Eye Center

The Moran Eye Center serves as the largest ophthalmology clinical care and research facility in the Mountain West with more than 60 faculty members and 10 satellite clinics. Physicians provide comprehensive care in nearly all ophthalmic subspecialties, making the Moran Eye Center a major referral center for complex cases with over 145,000 patient visits and about 7,000 surgeries annually.

Moran also supports 14 research labs, where internationally-awarded faculty, including one of the world’s top retinal teams, are developing the treatments of tomorrow. Faculty train 12 residents, four interns, and up to 13 fellows each year in one of the nation’s most selective and unique academic programs, identified as a model by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Olson leads more than 500 employees working to achieve Moran’s vision that no person with a blinding condition, eye disease, or visual impairment should be without hope, understanding, and treatment. Funded by donors, the Moran Eye Center Global Outreach Division carries out this vision on a global scale by providing services to underserved Utahns at no cost and by training doctors in developing countries to sustainably expand access to care.