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. 

2023 Recipients

2023 Epstein award recipient: Pradeep Ramulu and Jithin Yohannan
Pradeep Y. Ramulu, MD, PhD
Mentee: Jithin Yohannan, MD, MPH
Improving the Enrollment and Implementation of Glaucoma Neuroprotective Trials by Harnessing Deep Learning

2023 Epstein award recipient: Joshua Stein and Lev Prasov
Joshua Stein, MD, MS
Mentee: Lev Prasov, MD, PhD
Using Big Data and Familial Studies to Define Novel Glaucoma Genes