Hindsight, 1981: Dr. Frederick A. Jakobiec

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Diseases and Surgery of the Lids, Lacrimal Apparatus, and Orbit was our 1981 topic, and amongst our speakers was one of the world’s leading ophthalmic pathologists, Dr. Frederick A. Jakobiec. Dr. Jakobiec’s earliest connection to the world of ophthalmology came when he was a very young child, when his family would travel from their home in New Hampshire to Boston to secure treatment for his brother, who had been visually impaired since birth.  Dr. Jakobiec would later go on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1964, and Harvard Medical School four years later.

It was his research fellowship in the ultrastructure of ocular and orbital neoplasia at Columbia University’s Harkness Eye Institute that proved to be a transformative experience for him, leading him to obtain dual certification in ophthalmology and anatomic pathology.  Dr. Jakobiec went on to spend seven years studying ophthalmic diseases and pathology during his fellowship at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, completing his term in 1976.

His distinguished career has included appointments at some of the most prestigious ophthalmic institutes in the country, including:  Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons; Cornell Medical College Department of Ophthalmology; Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital; Harvard Medical School; and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.  Dr. Jakobiec worked hard to modernize technology and expand research efforts wherever he was appointed.  He also co-edited the six-volume text Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology, prefacing the first edition with this:

It is my compressed personal philosophy that we live to feel, think, and act and that the highest emanations of these faculties are enthusiasm, creativity, and love.

In 2002 Dr. Jakobiec was forced to take a five year leave of absence due to a sudden illness.  He returned to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in 2007, where he remains the Director of the David G. Cogan Laboratory of Ophthalmic Pathology as well as the Emeritus Willard Williams Professor at Harvard Medical School to this day.

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