The Academy takes special pride in honoring Bernard Becker, MD, as recipient of the Laureate Recognition Award at its 113th Annual Meeting.
Born in New York City, Dr. Becker graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Medical School before completing his ophthalmologic training at the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. He served briefly on the faculty at the Johns Hopkins University before becoming professor and head of ophthalmology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. During his extraordinary 35-year tenure as department chair (1953-1988), Dr. Becker established one of the country’s most outstanding departments of ophthalmology and residency programs and trained and mentored scores of individuals, many of whom remain national and international leaders in the ophthalmic and glaucoma communities.
As one of our profession’s first and leading clinician scientists, Dr. Becker extensively studied aqueous humor dynamics and confirmed the importance of carbonic anhydrase and its inhibition in lowering intraocular pressure and treating glaucoma. In his nearly 400 publications, Dr. Becker also authored or co-authored numerous manuscripts on corticosteroids and intraocular pressure, the genetics of corticosteroid responsiveness, and cataracts and topical corticosteroids. In addition, he has published on countless other topics including ocular tuberculosis, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, enzymatic activities of the lens, the use of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, epinephrine, and beta blockers in the management of glaucoma, and the use of silicone in retinal detachment surgery, to cite but a handful. He was highly influential in establishing the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) as the world’s leading organization for ophthalmic research. He served as president of ARVO in 1966, was the first editor-in-chief of Investigative Ophthalmology (now Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science), and has been the recipient of many of its most prestigious awards, including the Proctor Medal, the Friedenwald Award and the Mildred Weisenfeld Award. He also has received the Helen Keller Prize, one of the most distinguished honors in ophthalmology, and was an Academy Guest of Honor in 1997.
Along with his San Francisco contemporary Robert Shaffer, MD, Dr. Becker co-authored the first two editions of the Diagnosis and Therapy of the Glaucomas, which was and has remained one of the classic textbooks in ophthalmology. At the Academy's Annual Meetings, Dr. Becker has delivered the Robert N. Shaffer Lecture and the Jackson Memorial Lecture, the single most prestigious lecture in our profession. Dr. Becker also served as a director of the American Board of Ophthalmology from 1967 to 1974. In addition, he was a founding member of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) and provided editorial responsibilities to the American Journal of Ophthalmology, the Archives of Ophthalmology, and the Transactions of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology. He also played a vital role in establishing the NEI, which he served in a variety of key positions. His skill and wisdom in chairing the steering committee responsible for planning and constructing the new library and communications center at Washington University School of Medicine led to its being named the Bernard Becker Medical Library.
Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Becker has epitomized the ideals of our profession as a truly extraordinary clinician, scientist, scholar, innovator, educator, mentor and visionary leader. Indeed, few individuals have impacted the field of ophthalmology with the record of achievement, commitment, and integrity demonstrated by Dr. Bernard Becker.
Dr. Becker is honored at this 2009 Joint Meeting for his distinguished career and contributions to ophthalmology. It is with great pleasure that the Academy welcomes Dr. Becker as a 2009 Academy Laureate.