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(Vienna, 30 September 2010) Univ. Prof. Dr. Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth, Head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Optometry at the Medical University of Vienna, is the first European to be conferred the Donald Gass Award for excellent achievements in the field of retina research. The award is considered the internationally most renowned prize in this field.

Retinal diseases are by far the most frequent cause of severe loss of vision with practical blindness, it can be assumed that in Europe alone 4 to 5 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Consequently intensive efforts are made to improve diagnostics and therapy. In this context, Schmidt-Erfurth has contributed to essential developments in the field of imaging retinal pathologies, for which reason she has now been distinguished with the Donald Gass Award by the American Retina Society. In cooperation with the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Schmidt-Erfurth's working group developed a method for the selective presentation of the eye pigment, which enables a more precise diagnosis and a more effective therapy.

The scientist has also used this special expertise in the field of imaging to set up a digital imaging centre: the Vienna Reading Center (VRC). This Center collects and analyses retina findings from major international clinical trials to evaluate novel therapeutic procedures for later approval. A large number of projects have already led to patents both in diagnostics and in therapy.

Short biography:
Univ. Prof. Dr. Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth completed her medical studies at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. As early as during a research stay at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, between 1990 and 1992 she was active in experimental retinology. In 1996 she qualified as a Professor of Ophthalmology at the Medical University of Lübeck. In 2004 Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth took over the management of the Department of Ophthalmology and Optometry in Vienna.
She has received many national and international awards, including the Carl Zeiss Research Award of Stifterverband, the Achievement Award of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Rosenthal Award of the Macula Society. She is the author of more than 250 publications and book chapters.

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