November 5, 2012

Kellogg's Dr. Christine Nelson is recipient of the prestigious Wendell L. Hughes Lecture Award

Dr. Christine NelsonAnn Arbor, MI—The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS) has honored U-M Kellogg Eye Center oculoplastic surgeon Christine C. Nelson, M.D., with its 2012 Wendell L. Hughes Lecture award.  Dr. Nelson, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Professor of the Department of Surgery, Plastic Surgery Section, is the first female recipient of the prestigious award and joins a roster of distinguished contributors to the advancement of ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery. 

Dr. Nelson will deliver her lecture entitled, "From Bench to Bedside: Genetics of Congenital Anophthalmia," at the joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology on November 11, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois.

“I am honored to receive this award," says Dr. Nelson.  “Dr. Hughes is a giant in the field of oculoplastic surgery.  I was privileged to meet him very early in my career and it is one of the highlights of my career be invited to give this talk.”

While Dr. Nelson is well known and highly regarded for her clinical and surgical practice, she has pursued research that will have a direct impact on the lives of her patients who have anophthalmia, a condition in which one or both eyes do not develop. She also studies the related conditions microanophthalmia, in which one or both eyes are abnormally small, and coloboma, in which segments of tissue are missing from various eye structures.

In collaboration with Thomas Glaser, M.D., Ph.D., a former Michigan faculty member and now professor at the University of California at Davis, Dr. Nelson is studying the inheritance patterns of a seven-generation family with a genetic predisposition to anophthalmia, microanophthalmia, and coloboma.  Although some 25 genes have been identified as causing various forms of these rare congenital conditions, the family members in the study do not appear to carry known gene mutations.

Dr. Nelson and Dr. Glaser have identified a gene related to a carrier protein of Vitamin A which is important in the development of the eye during the early days of pregnancy.  Their preliminary findings suggest there may be possible therapies for patients with this rare mutation.

Dr. Nelson is the second faculty member of the U-M Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences to have received this high honor. In 1993, Dr. Nelson’s colleague, the late Bartley R. Frueh, M.D., gave the Wendell L. Hughes Lecture.

Wendell L. Hughes, MD (1901–1994) is recognized as a pioneer in the field of oculoplastic surgery, and is considered the father of oculoplastic surgery. Dr. Hughes was instrumental in the development of microneedles and sutures and many surgical techniques. He demonstrated a lifelong commitment to medical education and wrote and lectured extensively here and abroad. His text, Reconstructive Surgery of the Eyelids was published in 1943 and expanded in 1954. From 1950 to 1968 he headed the oculoplastic section of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, and wrote and edited the Manual of Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery. Dr. Hughes was among the founders and first diplomats of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. During his term as President of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, the Wendell L. Hughes Lecture was established in his honor, and it has been presented each year at the annual Academy meeting since 1970.

Written by Betsy Nisbet

Last Modified: Monday, 28-Mar-2016 13:11:36 EDT