May 25, 2021

Curcio Named 2021 Dean’s Excellence Award Winner in Research

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RS17723 Fran Lund 4 scrChristine A. Curcio, Ph.D., the White-McKee Endowed Professor in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, is the recipient of the 2021 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research by senior faculty.

Curcio joined UAB in 1990, focusing on retinal aging and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She has authored almost 200 peer-reviewed articles on histopathology, clinical image validation, neuroscience, neurodegeneration, lipoprotein biology, and visual function testing.

Access to a local eye bank, Advancing Sight Network, made possible many discoveries about human eyes with AMD. These include characterization of population-level progression risk factors like drusen and subretinal drusenoid deposit, a previously unrecognized lesion now visible clinically. Curcio’s finding that rod photoreceptors die before cones in aging and AMD supported development of the AdaptDx (with research by UAB collaborator Dr. Cynthia Owsley), a globally marketed instrument that assesses vision by rods.

“It is difficult to find an individual with as broad and translational impact on AMD research than Dr. Christine Curcio. We are fortunate that she has spent most of her career at UAB,” says Christopher Girkin, M.D., chair of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “Her hypotheses tested over the past three decades unraveled critical pathways in this common, blinding retinal disease. Her growing body of work continues to guide the development of new imaging biomarkers and innovative treatments for AMD.”

Curcio has received the Roger H. Johnson Prize in Macular Degeneration Research from the University of Washington, the Prix Soubrane de la Recherche en Ophtalmologie, and the Ludwig Von Sallmann Prize for lifetime contributions to research vision. Most recently, she was named to the first Top 100 Women in Ophthalmology Power List by The Ophthalmologist and a World Expert in Macular Degeneration by Expertscape.

Curcio received her Sc.B. in Biology from Brown University, a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Anatomy from the University of Rochester and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Boston University School of Medicine and research faculty at the University of Washington.