York professor honoured for promoting vision research in Canada

York Distinguished Research Professor Martin Steinbach has won this year’s Kupfer Award for his advocacy, leadership and championing of research in vision and ophthalmology in Canada.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the largest eye and vision research organization in the world, will present Steinbach with the award at its annual meeting May 3 to 7 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is one of five winners of major ARVO awards this year.

The Kupfer Award was created in 1993 and honours individuals who have demonstrated distinguished public service on behalf of eye and vision research.

ARVO cites Steinbach for co-founding the Vision Health Research Council of Canada to unify and advocate for Canadian vision research. The association says he continues to make an impact on Canadian eye research by organizing conferences between health funding officials and vision science leaders.

Left: Martin Steinbach

In 2002, Steinbach vowed to drum up more government support for vision research in Canada. He could see a crisis looming as aging baby boomers started losing their eyesight and was crusading as president of the Vision Health Research Council of Canada, which he helped found in 1988.

A distinguished research professor in psychology and biology in the Faculty of Health at York, Steinbach has been a vision researcher for 40 years. He is an ophthalmology professor and research director at the University of Toronto, director of vision science research at the Toronto Western Hospital Research Institute and research scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital. At York, he helped found the Centre for Vision Research and the Human Performance Lab at the former Institute for Space and Terrestrial Science.

Steinbach studies visual processing and oculomotor control in visually disabled humans. He investigates the molecular genetics of blinding eye diseases, the biophysics and psychophysics of glaucoma, oculomotor control in normal and visually disabled humans, and experimental therapies for macular degeneration.  

He earned a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the faculty at York University in 1969.

ARVO’s members include some 12,500 eye and vision researchers from over 73 countries. The association encourages and assists research, training, publication and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology. Steinbach has served as an ARVO board member and trustee.