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Gerrit Melles

The Power List 2020 – Power List


Cornea Specialist/ Director, NIIOS, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

His nominators were unequivocal:

“Melles has revolutionized lamellar corneal transplantation. Simply the best!”

“He is the father of lamellar keratoplasty, particularly for DSEK/DMEK, which represented a milestone in corneal surgery. Melles has received several awards including the Barraquer Award and the Helen Keller prize for vision research in recognition of his contribution to ophthalmology, and in 2019 he received, as the first ophthalmologist, the Tilanus medal, a prestigious Dutch award, given only once per decade, for his contributions to (ocular) surgery.”

“Melles is THE father of modern posterior lamellar corneal grafts, with many other contributions for corneal surgery. He developed all the new corneal transplants done today.”

If you had three wishes, what would they be?    

I guess wishes one through three would entail what is on everybody’s mind at the moment: that the world comes out of the Covid-19 problem soon, without even larger humanitarian, geopolitical or financial problems -- and with a constructive  long-term global psychological effect.

Piece of advice you would give to your younger self?  

To follow through more vigorously with your ideas or ambitions, and do not postpone... although this is easier to preach than to practise since there are only 24 hours in a day!

The most serendipitous moment of your career?    

The most intriguing moments were, and still are, when you come to realize that something of which you were so convinced of being accurate, proves to be false -- or at least different from what you have been told. As a consequence, a lot of things we are doing today with such good intentions, may be frowned upon tomorrow.

The most unexpected turn your career took?

To have a patient referred for DMEK who was the concert master of a German orchestra, which turned my dormant hobby into a collaboration for composing music and organizing concerts. A major advantage of turning to music is that you do not have to comply with the endless red tape swamping ophthalmology -- and let’s face it: the worst that can happen is an audience gets up and walks out, or that the orchestra asks you to never show your face again. So in the end, only minor downsides!


Part of the Power List 2020

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From ocular oncology to tackling neglected diseases, our 2020 Power Listers are making their mark on ophthalmology – and beyond.

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