Academician Vladimir Filatov is an outstanding ophthalmologist, clinician and scientist. He performed his first successful keratoplasty in 1931. In the course of his clinically innovative practice, he designed a number of instruments and innovations that greatly contributed to the progress of keratoplasty. Filatov was one of the true pioneers not only to the field of corneal transplantation and eye banking, but also in plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as medical eye care delivery.

To forever remember the legacy of academician Vladimir Filatov, the Filatov Memorial Lecture is one of the key highlights of our conference. In addition, the Filatov Memorial Lecturer is awarded by the Filatov Memorial Medal which has been established by the National Academy of Medical Science of Ukraine.

Filatov Memorial Lecture is presented by one of Ukrainian or International ophthalmologists who has contributed to the development of corneal transplantation, keratoplasty, keratoprosthesis, reconstructive surgery, and tissue therapy, which were primarily developed by academician Vladimir Filatov. The lecture is to be delivered at the Opening Ceremony of the FILATOV MEMORIAL LECTURES conference.

Filatov Memorial Lecture 2020

Filatov Memorial Lecture 2019


Petja Vassileva
University Eye Hospital “Acad. Pashev”, Sofia, Bulgaria

Lecture Title
Academician V. P. Filatov – the founder of modern keratoplasty and his impact in Bulgarian Ophthalmology
“The greater the discovery – the fewer the words needed to describe it.”

Lecture abstract 

The ground breaking work of Acad. V.P. Filatov in the 30s vastly expanded the scope of penetrating keratoplasty around the world. His genius idea to use human cadaveric corneas and his pioneering in eye banking, medical care delivery and tissue therapy was the key factor and revolutionized keratoplasty. During the period of full ignorance of the role of corneal endothelium, transplantation immunity, causes of graft opacification, Filatov developed the practice of tissue therapy (including placenta use) and initiated the great success of amniotic membrane transplantation nowadays. Due to him the keratoplasty was recognized not any more as investigational procedure but as a new treatment method in clinical medicine. Additionally to his reputation as a devoted and creative clinician, he was also a famous scientist, teacher and public figure. In a memorandum for the Government at the creation of this first scientific eye institution he declared “war on blindness”.

Acad. Filatov has followers in many countries, including my father – Prof. Ivan Vassilev. All of them continued his life work and established the new standards of corneal transplantation and ocular surgery in their countries following Filatov’s humanitarian mission.

Corneal diseases represent one of the main causes of treatable blindness (3 to 35% worldwide) and at present their prevalence is increasing due to “epidemic” of herpetic infection, surgery and trauma complications, etc.

Bulgarian experience in keratoplasty started in the 50s with the first successful corneal transplantation by Prof. Ivan Vassilev in 1956. With the use of fresh cadaver eyes keratoplasty developed further in the 70s- 80s but donor material was insufficient, inadequate and unreliable. Bulgarian corneal transplantation experiences legal regulation issues during the transition years (starting 1989). The creation of International Eye Bank Sofia by our team and with the support of The International Federation of Eye and Tissue Banks (ribbon cutting ceremony on 26 September 1995) was crucial importance and marked a new era for keratoplasty development. The number of transplantations increased rapidly: from 20-50/year until 1995 to 320/year in 1999: rate of 35-40 transplants per million/year, equal to European standards. As the first eye bank in South-Eastern Europe, we became part of the European Eye Bank Association (EEBA) and organize annual courses and symposia on eye banking and corneal transplantation with international attendees.

The longstanding collaboration, friendship, exchange of experience and ideas between Bulgarian ophthalmologists and Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy are guarantee for further development of corneal transplantation in our region.

Petja Vassileva, CV

Prof. Dr. Petja Vassileva is a Professor of Ophthalmology at Sofia Medical University, head of University Eye Hospital “Akad. Pashev”, founder and head of the first Eye Bank in Bulgaria, founder and head of Bulgarian Eye Foundation “Sight for All”.  She is an elected member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. She is a member of the WHO Program Advisory Group on Blindness Prevention and Co-Chairperson for Europe of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

She was elected as a member of Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis (AOI) in 2009 and as Honorary Member of the German Ophthalmological Society (DOG) in 2010. She is Honorary Member of the Russian, Ukraine and Macedonian Ophthalmologic Societies.

Prof. Vassileva specialized at the Clinical Institute for Experimental Ophthalmology at the University of Bonn, Germany as a Humboldt Fellow, and participated in fellowships in the US, Japan, and the UK. She received a Masters of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the US and conducted a fellowship at Dana Center for epidemiology and preventive ophthalmology at Willmer Eye Institute.

Prof. Petja Vassileva’s main interests include innovative surgery, corneal transplantation, intraocular inflammation, retina. She has published over 450 scientific articles and is author and co-author of 16 monographs and textbooks. Prof. Vassileva has trained hundreds of residents in ophthalmology, numerous fellows in ophthalmologic subspecialties, and tutored over 30 PhD programs in Bulgaria. She has been a visiting professor at multiple academic institutions.

Prof. Vassileva chairs scientific and advisory committees of national and international organizations, participates in numerous boards and associations, and is highly active in the ophthalmic community. She organized and conducted many blindness prevention programs in Bulgaria and the region.

Prof. Vassileva is founder and board member of South-East European Ophthalmologic Society (SEEOS) and The Black Sea Ophthalmological Society (BSOS), and president of the South-East Europe ARVO Chapter (SEE-ARVO). She has organized and chaired many ophthalmologic congresses, sessions and courses, both domestically and abroad.

For her long-life commitment to ophthalmology and prevention of blindness, she has received numerous honors, including: Certificates of Appreciation, IAPB (1999); Bulgarian Physician of the Year (2003) Gold Award; Certificate of Appreciation, International Eye Foundation (1991-2001); Honorary Award, Panhelenic Ophthalmologic Society (2004); Signum Laudis pro Scientiae Meritis (2006), Doctor Honoris Causa of Plovdiv Medical University (2017). She was granted the title of honorary citizen of Baltimore, USA and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

In 2015 she was awarded with the highest Bulgarian honor – Order of Stara Planina, for her exceptional contributions to medicine and ophthalmology.