David A. Sullivan, PhD, FARVO, receives the American Optometric Association’s Dr. Donald R. Korb Award for Excellence

June 21, 2017
David A. Sullivan, PhD, FARVO, receives the American Optometric Association’s Dr. Donald R. Korb Award for Excellence

Dr. David Sullivan receives prestigious award honoring innovation and leadership in the field of contact lenses and anterior segment disease.

Boston, Mass. — David A. Sullivan, PhD, FARVO, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and Senior Scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, is the recipient of the 2017 Dr. Donald R. Korb Award for Excellence, the highest honor given by the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the American Optometric Association (AOA). Dr. Sullivan will receive the award on June 21, 2017, at the AOA Meeting in Washington, D.C., where he will also deliver the AOA annual Korb Lecture, titled “Initiating innovation: Development of novel treatments for dry eye disease.“

“Being awarded the Dr. Donald R. Korb Award from the AOA is a very special honor,” said Dr. Sullivan. “Dr. Korb is an extraordinary visionary and an inspired innovator. From pioneering the modern soft contact lens, to describing giant papillary conjunctivitis, lid wiper epitheliopathy and meibomian gland dysfunction, the major cause of dry eye disease in the world, to discovering diagnostic devices and treatment approaches for eyelid and tear film disorders, and to teaching the world the importance of blinking, there have been very few people who can even begin to match Dr. Korb’s accomplishments. He is truly an amazing clinician scientist and an outstanding role model."

The Dr. Donald R. Korb Award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates true innovation and leadership in the field of contact lenses and anterior segment disease. Dr. Sullivan’s research focuses on the interrelationships between sex, sex steroids and dry eye disease, as well as on the impact of ocular surface stress. He has authored more than 225 scientific articles and 11 patents, and his investigations have led to the development of potential therapies for aqueous-deficient and evaporative dry eye disease.  

Dr. Sullivan discovered the significant impact of androgens in promoting lacrimal and meibomian gland function, which has led to successful, and currently ongoing, clinical trials of topical androgens for the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction. With several international colleagues, Dr. Sullivan also discovered lubricin, the body’s unique anti-adhesive, anti-friction and anti-inflammatory protein on the ocular surface and its role in preventing corneal and conjunctival epitheliopathies in dry eye disease. Dr. Sullivan and colleagues have developed a recombinant human lubricin and demonstrated in a Phase II clinical trial that this anti-stress protein significantly decreases the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. Ideally, these androgen and lubricin therapies will soon be available for the treatment of dry eye, which afflicts more than 30 million people in the United States alone.  

Dr. Sullivan is also Founder and President of the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society (TFOS), a non-profit organization created to advance the research, literacy, and educational aspects of the scientific field of the tear film and ocular surface throughout the world.

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear 
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2016–2017 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in New England for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit MassEyeAndEar.org.


About the Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology (eye.hms.harvard.edu) is one of the leading and largest academic departments of ophthalmology in the nation. More than 350 full-time faculty and trainees work at nine HMS affiliate institutions, including Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Joslin Diabetes Center/Beetham Eye Institute, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, VA Maine Healthcare System, and Cambridge Health Alliance. Formally established in 1871, the department has been built upon a strong and rich foundation in medical education, research, and clinical care. Through the years, faculty and alumni have profoundly influenced ophthalmic science, medicine, and literature—helping to transform the field of ophthalmology from a branch of surgery into an independent medical specialty at the forefront of science.

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