2020 Bressler Prize Awarded to Dr. Gerrit Melles for Outstanding Accomplishments in Vision Science


NEW YORK—Lighthouse Guild announced that Gerrit Melles, MD, PhD from The Netherlands has been awarded the 2020 Bressler Prize for his outstanding advances in vision science, particularly in the field of corneal transplantation. With a clinical focus on the management of corneal disorders and the research and development of new ophthalmic surgical procedures, Dr. Melles has invented several advanced lamellar keratoplasty techniques, including Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) and Bowman layer transplantation (BLT), among others.

He has also developed instruments and medical devices required for these techniques, pioneered the use of staining solutions for ophthalmic surgeries and developed SurgiCube for performing ophthalmic surgeries under sterile conditions in any clinical setting.

“Lighthouse Guild is committed to improving the lives of people with or at risk for vision loss. We believe it is important to publicly acknowledge scientists who are finding ways to understand visual mechanisms and restore vision,” Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, president and CEO of Lighthouse Guild said. “Dr. Melles has revolutionized the field of corneal transplantation and his research is opening new pathways to help people with vision loss lead full and productive lives.”

Dr. Melles is the founder and director of a number of organizations specializing in ocular surgery, including the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery (NIIOS), for the research and development of ophthalmic surgical techniques; the Amnitrans EyeBank Rotterdam; and Amnitrans EyeBank International, a donor tissue organization; the Melles Cornea Clinic Rotterdam; NIIOS Academy, offering post-academic education in advanced lamellar keratoplasty and NIIOS symposia, sharing knowledge and innovations; and NIIOS USA, a NIIOS branch office offering collaborations with American partners to advance research and development.

With the techniques and insights he has produced, Dr. Melles has published more than 200 papers over the course of his career. His work has appeared in leading ophthalmological journals, most notably the publication Cornea.

Dr. Melles has received several awards for his contribution to ophthalmology. Among them are the 2017 Helen Keller Award Laureate, the 2015 Dastgheib Pioneer Award in Ocular Innovation at the Duke University Eye Center, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology Achievement Award in 2009 and 2005.

The Bressler Prize was established in 2001, and since 2003 has annually recognized a mid-career vision clinician or scientist whose leadership, research and service have led to substantive advancements in the understanding of vision loss, treatment of eye disease, or the rehabilitation of people with vision loss.

As the 2020 Bressler Prize winner, Dr. Melles will receive a prize of $54,000 and also lead Lighthouse Guild’s Annual Bressler Vision Science Symposium in New York City on Oct. 17, 2020, where he will be joined by other leading researchers and clinicians who will present their latest findings in vision research.