Robert M. Ellsworth Lecture

Dr. Frederick A. Jakobiec is one of the worlds premier ophthalmic pathologists, and clearly the worlds final authority on orbital pathology. He achieved this expertise by the combination of superb training and outstanding natural aptitudes; honed it by vigorous professional activity in prestigious institutions; and shared it by contributions to the literature, presentations in the most elite professional societies, and in training generations of residents, fellows, and colleagues. We are honored and thrilled to welcome him back to New York and to Weill Cornell, a city he loves and an institution in which he played a major role.

A native of New Hampshire, he recalled his earliest connection to ophthalmology in the family visits to Boston to secure ongoing care for his brother who had visual impairment since infancy. Dr. Jakobiec graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1964 and from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After internship at Stanford, he did a research fellowship in the ultrastructure of ocular and orbital neoplasia at Columbia Universitys Harkness Eye Institute from 1969-1970, and this experience would prove transformative. Indeed, his fascination with the structure and abnormalities of the eye and its surrounding tissues became pedimentary to his subsequent completion of residencies (also at Columbia) in the two related specialties, first in ophthalmology and second in anatomic pathology. Thus he joined the most rarified company of ophthalmic pathologists with dual certification. His training capstone was the completion of the esteemed Armed Forces Institute of Pathology fellowship in 1976. These seven years of passionately pursued study of ophthalmic diseases and pathology provided an unrivalled training to an already inherently remarkable man, and resulted in an inspiring subject mastery that continues to this day.

His distinguished career included initial appointments at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons from 1976-1979, a major role at the Cornell Medical College Department of Ophthalmology from 1979-1984, and major appointments at both the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital and again at Columbia University in the period from 1979-1989. In July 1989, he became the Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, leaving his beloved New York to guide the Infirmary to new heights: his modernization of the Harvard faculty clinical practice; his expansion of the research effort; and his co-editorship of the six volume text Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology are particularly notable achievements. In December 2002 he took an unplanned medical leave of absence that was frightening in its inexplicable severity and in the distance it took him from every aspect of his former life. His miraculous recovery allowed his return to the Infirmary in July 2007, when he resumed his role as Director of Ophthalmic Pathology with undiminished vigor, surrounded by his many friends who enjoy his rekindled warmth and luminous personal insights.

Dr. Jakobiec is one of the most erudite scholars and elegant users of the English language, a faculty that we shall shortly enjoy. His preface to the First Edition of the Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology is a marvelous read: 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. We most warmly welcomed Dr. Frederick A. Jakobiec as the 2008 Ellsworth Lecturer.


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