Arnall Patz, a world-renowned researcher on the causes and treatment of eye disease and former director of the Wilmer Eye Institute at The Johns Hopkins University, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the university.
Patz, a member of the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine since 1955, was one of four persons to receive the degree of doctor of humane letters at May 24 commencement ceremonies marking the close of the university's 125th academic year.
The citation accompanying the award praised Patz for his research and clinical contributions, his leadership in ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins and his mentoring of medical students and residents. The citation honored Patz for providing "inspiration and leadership to fellow professionals" throughout more than five decades as a physician.
Patz was only 32 when he made his first major scientific contribution, proving -- despite considerable opposition from the medical establishment -- that the practice of giving high levels of oxygen to premature infants was causing an epidemic of blindness in those babies. Working with Leroy Hoeck, a pediatrician in the nursery of D.C. General Hospital, he reproduced the condition in young mice with added oxygen and conducted the first clinical trial on the issue. Patz was awarded the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in American Medicine. Activist for the blind Helen Keller presented the award.
Later, while in private practice and working part-time on the faculty at Johns Hopkins, Patz made important discoveries about diseases caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye. With colleagues from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, he developed one of the first lasers used to treat eye disease. Patz joined the Johns Hopkins faculty full-time in 1970 and founded its Retinal Vascular Center. In 1979, he became director of the Wilmer Eye Institute and served in that role for 10 years. He remains active in medical education as a professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins.
"In the annals of 20th century ophthalmology, few individuals have contributed so importantly as Arnall Patz," Morton F. Goldberg, the current Wilmer director, has written. "He continues to inspire those of us fortunate to work with him daily."
Patz was the first winner, in 1994, of the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research and has received many other distinguished ophthalmology awards, including the Friedenwald Research Award in 1980, the inaugural Isaac C. Michaelson Medal in 1986 and the Pisart International Vision Award from The Lighthouse International earlier this year.
Patz, a native of Elberton, Ga., graduated from the Emory University School of Medicine in 1945. At age 78, he earned a master of liberal arts degree from Johns Hopkins in 1998.
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