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Randall J. Olson Receives 2014 Rosenblatt Prize

Dr. Randall J. Olson, winner of the 2014 Rosenblatt Prize, awarded at the University of Utah Commencement Exercises, May 1, 2014.

May 1, 2014 – Randall J. Olson, M.D., professor and chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences and CEO of the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, was honored at today’s commencement ceremonies with the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, the U’s most prestigious award. The $40,000 gift is presented annually to a faculty member who displays excellence in teaching, research and administrative efforts.

The Rosenblatt Prize Committee, a group of distinguished faculty members, recommends selected candidates for the award. University President David W. Pershing made the final selection.

“Dr. Olson has a long, rich history with the University and is an inspired choice for this honor,” Pershing said. “His forward-thinking leadership has effectively put the Moran Eye Center on the national map, bringing life-changing research and outreach, renowned patient care and academic excellence together in one outstanding institution.”


Olson holds a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Utah School of Medicine, where he has been a faculty member since 1979 and full professor from 1982. He was appointed the first John A. Moran Presidential Chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine in 1997, and became the CEO of the Moran Eye Center in 2006.

Olson is the author of more than 300 professional publications and a worldwide lecturer. He specializes in research dealing with cataract surgery complications and infectious ophthalmic diseases.

Under his leadership, the U’s ophthalmology program has grown from a single faculty member in 1979 to “one of the nation’s top ophthalmology programs and vision institutes in the world – the John A. Moran Eye Center,” says Vivian Lee, senior vice president for health sciences at the U. “The U’s department of ophthalmology and Moran Eye Center are now home to more than 500 employees – including more than 30 practicing ophthalmologists and 50 researchers world renowned in their fields.”

Kuldev Singh, professor of ophthalmology at the Stanford University School of Medicine noted that “it is most remarkable that [Olson] has made academic and administrative contributions while simultaneously building one of the leading ophthalmology departments in the world. There is no better place to get eye care than the Moran Eye Center.”

“He has created a culture of collaboration and excellence that is the envy of so many departments,” said David Chang, clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California at San Francisco. “He is one of the most influential and prominent academic chairs in ophthalmology. His selection as president of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology is a testament to his stature in our field.”

Olson was honored in 2012 as the Binkhorst Lecturer at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, an award dedicated to excellence in intraocular lens research. Additionally, Olson was selected as one of the 15 best cataract surgeons in the United States in a peer survey conducted by Ophthalmology Times and Cataract and Refractive Surgery Today named Olson as one of 50 international opinion leaders.


The Rosenblatt Prize, a $40,000 cash award, is presented annually at commencement to “recognize, encourage and honor excellence in teaching, in research and administrative efforts, collectively or individually.” The Rosenblatt endowment, from which the prize money is drawn, was established in 1983 by the Joseph and Evelyn Rosenblatt family to honor the civic leadership and generosity of Joseph’s parents, Nathan and Tillie Rosenblatt, who immigrated to Utah from Russia in the late 19th century.