Dr. David L. Epstein Award


This award honors David L. Epstein, MD, who is widely considered to be one of the most influential leaders in the world of glaucoma and glaucoma research over the past 40 years. The award was created by Dr. Epstein’s family to perpetuate and honor his commitment to the scientific understanding and cure of glaucoma through the support of promising clinician-scientists in exceptional research environments. It is the intent of the donors that this award further Dr. Epstein's long-standing determination and interest in solving the complex issues of glaucoma through well-conceived and executed scientific research focused on finding the causes and new treatments for the disease.

The $100,000 award, which is supported through the ARVO Foundation, was first presented in 2016.


Eligible applicants include ARVO members who are well-established, senior-level investigators with documented history of conducting eye and vision research in glaucoma and who have a record of successfully mentoring clinician-scientists to independent academic and research careers. The award will fund a research project that supports the applicant’s mentee in the applicant’s lab.

Specific eligibility criteria include:

  • Applicant must be the PI of an active research program and have a history of obtaining at least two NIH grants in the U or R series (or two grant equivalents if the applicant is from outside the United States), at least one of which is current.
  • Applicant must have a record of accomplishment in successfully mentoring clinician-scientists to independent academic and research careers.
  • Applicant must agree at time of application that Epstein Award funds will be used specifically to support a clinician-scientist, within five years of completion of formal training, in the awardee’s laboratory or area of research to further research for:
    • a period of two years at a minimum of 30% effort per year. If funds remain at the end of two years, the principal investigator may apply for a no cost extension; OR
    • one year at a minimum of 75% effort. If funds remain at the end of a year, the principal investigator may apply for a no cost extension.
  • The applicant’s mentee must be committed to becoming a clinician-scientist; the mentee must have an MD or OD degree (or equivalent)
  • Applicant must be an employee of a tax-exempt academic institution, and said institution must be willing to receive and disburse the award monies under the guidelines of ARVO. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure his/her institution can and will accept the award monies for the sole purpose set out in this award, as specified in the criteria, including that the institution agrees not to apply or withhold administrative fees or indirect costs.
  • Must follow ARVO described processes for application including established deadlines.
  • There are no geographic (international or domestic) restrictions.
  • There are no age restrictions.
  • ARVO and ARVO Foundation Officers, Board members and ARVO Foundation Awards Committee members are not eligible to apply for or be nominated for an award nor may they supply letters of support during their terms.

Application information

The online application requires the following information, forms and documents:

  • Description of proposed research
    • Limited to three pages (typed, single spaced, 10 point or larger font size) describing how your current and past research supports the work of the mentee in conducting the proposed research, including:
      • Highlights of past and current glaucoma research, including five most significant papers
      • Hypothesis, goals and potential impact to the field of glaucoma research
  • Summary of applicant's current and previous mentorship provided to junior clinician-scientists
    • For each mentee, include name, dates of mentorship, research focus and NIH RO1 (or equivalent) funding history, if achieved, publication history, and current work of past mentees
  • Applicant statement to endorse the mentee must address:
    • Training background
    • Qualifications
    • Career development plans
  • Description of the training and mentoring program that will be provided to the junior clinician-scientist
  • Commitment to conditions of award
    • Application must include a letter stating that the award will go to the institution of the applicant, that the institution will accept the funds for use as described in the award criteria, and that the institution agrees not to apply or withhold administrative fees or indirect costs. The letter must be on university letterhead signed by an authorized representative of the institution.

Complete the following forms before you start then upload these forms as you complete your application.

Review and selection process

Applications will be reviewed by internationally recognized experts on the Epstein Ad Hoc Committee. The final selection will be approved by the ARVO Foundation Board of Governors and the ARVO Board of Trustees. The deliberations of the Epstein Ad Hoc Committee, the ARVO Foundation Board of Governors and the ARVO Board of Trustees are confidential, and their decision is final.

Additional information
  • Unsuccessful applicants may apply for the award again in subsequent years.
  • Past recipients are eligible to apply for the award again after a period of three years. There is no limit to the number of times a recipient may receive the award.
  • The award winner will be expected to present results from his/her research project at the ARVO Annual Meeting two years later (for example, the 2023 winner will present at ARVO 2025).

Applications open on Aug. 1

Applications close on Oct. 1

Recipients notified in Dec. 

2024 recipients

Project title: Intravital imaging of microglia dynamics during synapse disassembly in glaucoma

Epstein Award recipients - Yvonne Ou and Tyson Kim
Mentor: Yvonne Ou, MD 

Yvonne Ou, MD, is the Dr. and Mrs. Stacy R. Mettier Jr. Professor of Ophthalmology, vice chair for Postgraduate Education, and academic director of the Glaucoma Division in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCSF. She is also co-director of the UCSF-Proctor K12 Clinician Vision Scholars Program. Ou received her BA and MD, both magna cum laude, from Harvard University. She underwent residency training at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA, and then completed both clinical and postdoctoral fellowships at Duke University. Ou is the recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the Alcon Research Institute and the Dr. Douglas H. Johnson Award for Glaucoma Research from the BrightFocus Foundation. The research interests of the Ou laboratory are in glaucoma neurodegeneration, circuit disassembly and reassembly, and neuronal plasticity. The team is studying the cellular and synaptic mechanisms of retinal ganglion cell degeneration and identifying specific types of ganglion cells and circuits that are particularly susceptible, with an eye for improving diagnostic and treatment modalities for patients. The group also has developed translational applications from the team’s laboratory findings, specifically novel clinical ERG paradigms and virtual-reality based oculokinetic perimetry for glaucoma diagnostics. More recently, the Ou lab is part of an Audacious Goals Initiative team tackling barriers to retinal ganglion cell transplantation as a vision restoration strategy. with animal models. The award is open to researchers from any country.

Mentee: Tyson Kim, MD, PhD

Tyson Kim is a clinician-scientist with a background in optical engineering, neurovascular biology, and ophthalmology. He completed his bachelor degree in physics from UC San Diego, his MD from UC San Francisco, PhD in Bioengineering from UCSF/UC Berkeley, residency at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, and fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. He is passionate about innovation and his research centers on studying cellular-level dynamics and physiology in intact tissues with an emphasis on degenerative neurovascular diseases of the eye. The complex interaction of cells and tissues in these diseases can be challenging to understand through traditional assays such as cell or organ tissue culture. The Kim lab therefore develops advanced optical and analytical methods, and merges these with genetic tools to observe and alter the cellular and physiological mechanisms driving disease longitudinally over time in the living eye. Dr. Kim is passionate about advancing the field by answering fundamental questions on disease mechanism and by translating these findings and new optical technologies toward improving ophthalmic care for patients.