Tuesday, September 6, 2016; Baltimore, Maryland – TBI/ Tissue Banks International is pleased to announce the appointment of internationally renowned corneal surgeon, Esen K. Akpek, M.D., as its new National Medical Director. As TBI’s National Medical Director, Dr. Akpek will Chair TBI’s Quality Review Committee, as well as have a key role in advising TBI regarding innovative research that TBI should support to advance the treatment of corneal blindness globally.
Dr. Akpek brings a well-established history of prestigious clinical research and medical practice to TBI. She is the Bendann Family Professor of Ophthalmology and Rheumatology at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Akpek serves as the Director of the Cornea and External Disease Clinical Fellowship Program at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Jerome L. Greene Sjogren’s Syndrome Center. She is a board member of Cornea Society, Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation and former member of TFOS Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Akpek has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, holds a patent in the field of keratoprosthesis devices, and has been awarded the Cora Verhagen Immunology Prize and the American Academy of Ophthalmology Senior Achievement Award, among other distinguished honors.
The appointment of Dr. Akpek comes after the recent retirement of the former TBI National Medical Director, Walter J. Stark, M.D. For nearly 40 years, Dr. Stark has dedicated his life to helping reverse blindness while serving as an instrumental leader and visionary at TBI. Dr. Stark also served as the Director of Cornea and Cataract Services at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and The Boone Pickens Professor of Ophthalmology at The John Hopkins University School of Medicine. This change marks a new era for TBI as it continues to grow as a global leader in providing innovative ocular transplantation services. Dr. Akpek’s exceptional expertise in the field of corneal transplantation, as well as her established relationship with TBI as a member of its National Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, made her an optimal candidate to succeed Walter Stark, M.D. as the new National Medical Director.
"I’m very happy Dr. Akpek is succeeding me as National Medical Director,” said Dr. Stark. “She is an outstanding clinician, teacher and surgeon. Dr. Akpek, in particular, has also been a great mentor to our younger doctors.“
Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Chicago Medicine, noted that “Dr. Akpek, a renowned corneal surgeon and researcher, has already contributed greatly to our field. She brings tremendous skill and passion to everything she does. She is an outstanding choice to lead TBI in its mission to reduce the worldwide burden of corneal blindness.”
“I am very much honored to be chosen for this position and look forward to increasing the availability of corneal tissues for transplantation globally,” says Esen K. Akpek, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. “In my role, my colleagues and I will focus on refining surgical techniques and post-operative care to improve outcomes of such procedures.”
“TBI is delighted to work even more closely with Dr. Akpek in her new role as National Medical Director. Her wealth of experience, her energy, and her demonstrated commitment to excellence and innovation will be invaluable to TBI in the years to come,” said TBI’s CEO, Douglas J. Furlong.
TBI has a rich history in meeting the needs of patients suffering from corneal blindness around the world. Through the generosity of tens of thousands of donor families, the organization has provided corneas to over 250,000 patients. TBI’s legacy started in Baltimore in 1962 as the Medical Eye Bank of Maryland and has grown into a network that covers the United States and reaches around the globe.