Announcing the 2023 Michels Award Recipients

Yoshihiro Yonekawa, MD
RETINA Roundup Editor

The “Michels” is one of the highest honors that a vitreoretinal surgery fellow can achieve. Dr. Alexander Brucker, Chairman of the Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation and Editor-in-Chief of RETINA, recently made his annual phone calls to notify and congratulate the 2023 award recipients.

Dr. Brucker previously shared with us his perspectives about what the Foundation and the fellowship award represent:

“For those of us who were friends of Ronald G. Michels, admirers of his, colleagues and students of his, we wanted to perpetuate the ideals which were so important to him. He truly believed that sharing his knowledge with others was a primary goal in his life. This is witnessed by the number of papers which he wrote, and in the books which he produced in his short 47 years on this earth.

“Residents and fellows along with his colleagues were the beneficiaries of his writings, the purpose for which was to provide better care to their patients. He felt that if he could teach others how to be better doctors, then the sight of many would be saved.

“The Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation acknowledges those who have excelled and supports their efforts so as to perpetuate his ideals and his goals. We hope he will be remembered as one of the finest vitreoretinal surgeons who ever lived, a teacher to be emulated, an unparalleled author, and of course a dear friend to so many.”

Without further ado, please meet the 2023 Michels fellows, in alphabetical order, with personal comments from the awardees.

Inês Laíns, MD, PhD
Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellow
Mass Eye and Ear

I am really honored and humbled to join the Michels family! I am originally from Portugal and earned my MD and PhD at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. During my PhD, I received a grant that supported me to move to the United States and pursue a research fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE). After that, I completed my residency at MEE, where I am now a vitreoretinal surgery fellow. During my training, I have been fortunate to work with outstanding mentors, to whom I am eternally grateful. Following fellowship, I plan to continue my research in metabolomics and genetics of age-related macular degeneration, and I deeply appreciate the support of the Michels Foudation to pursue my career aspirations.


Jesse Sengillo, MD
Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellow
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

I am extremely grateful to join the Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation family. I am originally from Rochester NY, where I also completed my undergraduate education at the University of Rochester. After medical school at the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, I completed my residency at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute where I continued as a vitreoretinal surgery fellow and chief resident. I am fortunate to have been supported by so many amazing mentors. My research interests are focused on studying the natural history of inherited retinal disease and the application of novel gene and cell-based therapies to these conditions. When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and cheering on the Buffalo Bills.