The Packo Service Award

In 2019, the American Society of Retina Specialists established the Packo Service Award to recognize a member for exceptional service to the Society. 

The award is named for its first recipient, Kirk H. Packo, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Retina Section at Rush University Medical Center. 

Dr. Packo’s dynamic leadership and strategic innovations over 30 years helped shape the ASRS into an internationally recognized medical organization that encompasses all things retina.

Dr. Packo, who served as president of the Society from 2001-2002, served as a driving force behind many of the Society’s cornerstone initiatives, including the Preferences and Trends Survey and Film Festival.

2020 Packo Service Award Recipients

The ASRS has chosen the Society's founders—Drs. Jerald Bovino, Roy Levit, and Allen Verne—as the winners of the 2020 Packo Award, in recognition of their exceptional service to the Society. The Packo Award is named in honor of its first recipient, ASRS 2001-2002 President Kirk H. Packo, MD, whose dynamic leadership and strategic innovations helped shape and advance the Society for more than 30 years.

Our founders remember the conversation that sparked the idea for the Society; in 1982, while attending a retina ski meeting in Aspen, Colorado, the 3 of them were having dinner with their wives. One topic of conversation was their frustration over the exclusivity of retina meetings, which precluded most retina surgeons from attending scientific sessions devoted to their specialty.

“We embraced the idea of equality, fraternity, and freedom of knowledge,” they recall. At first, our founders did not have any defined plan, but they knew they wanted to develop an egalitarian society of well-trained retina specialists who could meet and exchange ideas—and they wanted to include both the science of retina and the mechanics of running a practice.

“Since people learn best in a relaxed environment, we decided to hold the meetings in resort locations,” the founders explain. Scientific sessions at the early Vitreous Society meetings lasted only half a day, and open discussions were held after each presentation; attendees spent the afternoons relaxing, getting to know one another, and furthering their exchange of ideas. “A lot of useful information was gathered at poolside,” our founders recall.

“We took a lot of risk and received a lot of ridicule from the ‘establishment,’” they note. Our founders persevered and the organization grew, gathering support from the new leaders in the vitreoretinal world. “Kirk Packo was a force, as well as Drs. George Williams, Sanderson ‘Sandy’ Grizzard, Paul Tornambe, Nick Zakov, and innumerable others who helped the Society grow into the internationally recognized American Society of Retina Specialists,” our founders add.

“The child has become the man, and we are thrilled and humbled to be the recipients of the Kirk Packo Award,” they conclude. “The Society was a good idea that none of us thought would be as good as it has become.”

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