Faculty Named to Two Endowed Professorships

Ceremonies recognize the generosity and foresight of Mary and Edwin Meader and of the Skillman Foundation.

Thiran Jayasundera, MD, FACS, and Paul Lichter, MD, MS and Carol Bradford, MD, MS, Cagri Besirli MD, PhD, and Paul Lee, MD, JD
Left: Thiran Jayasundera, MD, FACS, and Paul Lichter, MD, MS
Right: Carol Bradford, MD, MS, Cagri Besirli MD, PhD, and Paul Lee, MD, JD

K. Thiran Jayasundera, MD, was named the Paul R. Lichter Professor of Ophthalmic Genetics in November. At his installation ceremony, he expressed his appreciation for a gift made by Mary and Edwin Meader, who established the endowed professorship in 1991.

Dr. Jayasundera is a vitreoretinal surgeon whose far-reaching research program focuses on autoimmune and inherited retinal degenerations. He was the first surgeon in the United States to implant the Argus II device after FDA approval—a groundbreaking new technology, often called a bionic eye, that can transform the lives of some patients with retinal dystrophies.

The Meaders, who passed away in the late 2000s, made many gifts to U-M. In creating this professorship, they honored Paul R. Lichter, MD, who served as chair of the department for more than 33 years.

Dr. Jayasundera is the third person to hold the professorship. The first was Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, who today is the director of the National Eye Institute, and the second was John R. Heckenlively, MD, professor emeritus of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at U-M.

In April, Cagri G. Besirli, MD, PhD, shared his gratitude for a long-term investment in the Kellogg Eye Center. He was named the Skillman Career Development Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology, a professorship that grew out of a gift made more than 30 years ago.

The Detroit-based Skillman Foundation made a multifaceted contribution to children’s eye care in the late 1980s. Dr. Besirli, a physician-scientist whose research reaches across broad areas of pediatric ophthalmology, is advancing scientific knowledge and care related to retinal diseases. He is a leader in studies implementing telemedicine for the care of premature infants for the detection of retinopathy of prematurity. His laboratory research seeks to restore diseased retinal cells.

“Professorships are a hallmark of academic medicine,” says Paul P. Lee, MD, JD, F. Bruce Fralick Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Director of the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center. “They exist in perpetuity, forever driving research progress and enabling faculty to devote time to educational and leadership activities. We are deeply thankful to those who provide this extraordinary and enduring support.”