June 4, 2008
Kellogg physician-scientist is named Ravitz Foundation Professor in Ophthalmology
Victor M. Elner, M.D., Ph.D.
ANN ARBOR, MI - Victor M. Elner, M.D., Ph.D., whose medical practice and research at the University of Michigan encompass the dual disciplines of ophthalmology and pathology, has been installed as the Ravitz Foundation Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. The ceremony took place June 4, at the W. K. Kellogg Eye Center.
“The contribution of pathology to understanding eye disease is significant, but not always recognized,” says Paul R. Lichter, F. Bruce Fralick Professor and Chair of the U-M Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “The Eye Center is grateful to the Ravitz Foundation for supporting this unique professorship and for naming Dr. Elner as its recipient. Dr. Elner is an exceptional ophthalmologist who continues to draw important connections between the pathologic processes underlying eye disease and new approaches to diagnosis and treatment. His appointment as Ravitz Professor will benefit both our Department and the entire field of ophthalmology.
Dr. Elner is a professor in the U-M Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Pathology. He received his medical degree, residency training, and fellowship training in Pathology from the University of Chicago. Dr. Elner then completed additional fellowships, one in Pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, another in Pathology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and later a fellowship in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Wisconsin. He joined the U-M Kellogg Eye Center in 1988.
Dr. Elner is a physician-scientist who has shown that inflammation is often a cause of eye disease, or the cause of serious complications. He has investigated the basic mechanisms of ocular inflammation and has described the chain of events that results in the destruction of cells leading to vision loss. The death of these vital cells in the retina and other tissues is the fundamental cause of some of the most severe eye diseases, from diabetic retinopathy to age-related macular degeneration.
Over the past several years, Dr. Elner has collaborated with Kellogg scientist Howard R. Petty, Ph.D. in developing an imaging instrument capable of detecting eye disease long before the first symptoms occur. The instrument, a state-of the art camera system, measures signs of metabolic stress emitted by diseased tissue. Drs. Elner and Petty have proven its effectiveness for early detection of one ocular disease, and they are concluding studies on its use in screening for diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.
Dr. Elner’s clinical specialties include the evaluation and treatment of eyelid and orbital tumors, thyroid (Graves) eye disease, disorders affecting the eyelid and tear ducts, and comprehensive ophthalmic pathology. He has published more than 150 articles, including many on pathologic entities and advances in eye plastic surgery.
The Ravitz Foundation was founded by Edward Ravitz, a native of Detroit, who saw the need to support medical research and initiatives that would bring people together to further a sense of community and shared humanity.
Mr. Ravitz was employed by Edward Rose and Sons, a large building company. In 1963 he established the firm’s Kalamazoo office, which, through his leadership grew to more than 600 employees. He oversaw the building of more than 15,000 single-family homes and apartment units in Michigan and another 12,000 in other states. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II and was awarded a bronze star for valor in 1945. Mr. Ravitz died in 1999.
Gifts from The Ravitz Foundation have also established a professorship in the U-M Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases; the Ravitz Foundation Phase 1 / Translational Research Center at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center; and a program to disseminate information about depression and treatment for the Comprehensive Depression Center. The Foundation has also supported the construction of the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and funded research on neuroblastoma, a deadly form of childhood cancer.
Written by Betsy Nisbet