Michael W. Belin wins Castroviejo Award for corneal research

Feb. 19, 2024

Michael W. Belin, MD, a professor of ophthalmology and vision science at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, is the recipient of the Cornea Society’s 2024 Castroviejo Award. 

Portrait of Dr. Michael W. Belin.

Michael W. Belin, MD

“As this is considered the highest award in the field of cornea both nationally and internationally, I was, to say the least, ecstatic,” Belin said. “This is a tremendous honor.”

The award is given in recognition of exceptional contributions in support of the society’s mission to promote knowledge, research and understanding in cornea, external disease and refractive surgery. It is named for Ramon Castroviejo, MD, the father of modern corneal transplant surgery and the inspiration behind the founding of the society.

When Belin was an opthalmology resident – before refractive surgery on the cornea was common – he was interested in the refractive properties of the cornea, which led him to research and develop new tools that are used daily by refractive surgeons worldwide, said David Glasser, MD, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one of Belin’s nominators.

“This work and his leadership of the Cornea Society during its transformation to the leading academic society for cornea and external disease make him a worthy recipient of the society’s highest honor, the Castroviejo Award,” Glasser said.

Another nominator, Marc Odrich, MD, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Virginia, called Belin a brilliant clinician. Belin’s contributions to ophthalmology have allowed “both clinicians and patients to benefit by knowing who should avoid laser vision correction,” he said.

Belin, who served as president of the Cornea Society from 2006 to 2008, co-developed the Belin/Ambrosio enhanced ectasia display, the most commonly used refractive screening software. He also developed the Belin ABCD Keratoconus Classification and Progression Display. He said winning the award is “a reaffirmation of my life’s work.”

“This is not something that occurs very often,” he said. “It tells you that you have made an impact in the field and one that influences other physicians' practices and hopefully improves patient outcomes.”

The formal presentation of the Castroviejo Award will take place in October at the 2024 American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in Chicago. Belin will also deliver the Castroviejo Lecture at the event.

Belin holds an honorary professorship at Military Hospital No. 1 in Shenyang, China.