OUWB professor Michael Trese earns laureate award

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Noora Neiroukh

The OUWB Eye Research Institute.

Tanner Trafelet, Senior Reporter

Oakland University William Beaumont (OUWB) faculty member Michael Trese, M.D., will receive a laureate award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) during the organization’s meeting this month in New Orleans, Louisiana. The laureate award is the organization’s most prestigious honor, and Dr. Trese will be one of the now 23 individuals to have ever received this award. 

Dr. Trese is a truly monumental figure in the history of pediatric retinal medicine. According to the AAO, Dr. Trese is considered to be the central figure in the establishment of modern pediatric vitreoretinal surgery. His most distinguished accomplishments come with his establishment of pediatric retinal surgery as a major area of work and research in ophthalmology, and his advocacy for globally accessible telemedical solutions. 

“Pediatric retinal disease is something that changes a person’s entire life,” Dr. Trese said. “In ophthalmology, most of the time you are working with older individuals who have much less life expectancy. With pediatric retinal care, you have the ability to actually change an individual’s entire life. Currently — in regard to genetic therapies — we have an analyzer in our lab at Oakland University that allows us to define more genetic pathways that may be manipulatable in terms of therapy.” 

With nearly 40 years of clinical experience in ophthalmology — Dr. Trese graduated with his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan — and later went on to earn his O.D. from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and his M.D. degree from the School of Medicine at Georgetown University.

Following his pursuit of collegiate education and early stages of his career in medicine, Dr. Trese founded ROPARD — Retinopathy of Prematurity and Allied Retinal Disease — which has since evolved into the Pediatric Retinal Research Foundation (PRRF) 

“Most everything in medicine is accomplished by dedicated people and money,” Dr. Trese said. “We started ROPARD and raised a rather significant amount of money for use in pediatric retinal research. At the time when ROPARD was started, pediatric retinal research was receiving very much financial support. I felt that it would be good to organize a 501(c)(3) that was dedicated to pediatric retinal research in order to establish pediatric retinal as a main area of research in ophthalmology.” 

In light of Dr. Trese’s list of career accomplishments — which includes the development of the drug Ocriplasmin to being included in 13 scholarly journals — Dr. Trese is committed to not slowing down in pursuit of new methods of research and analysis of pediatric retinal diseases. If anything, the good that Dr. Trese has helped inspire in the OU community and beyond is what continues to drive his strive toward innovation, all in pursuit of helping people. 

“It’s a very wonderful award, and it is the highest award that the academy gives out. I’m thankful to have been the 23rd person to have received it, and three of my mentors have been in the 22 others that have been awarded this honor. It is a very meaningful and humbling award, ” Dr. Trese said. “I think that pediatric retinal care is an enthralling area of work and research. We are currently involved in regenerative medicine therapeutics which will be able to grow normal retinal tissue, which is especially exciting.”