The Academy takes special pride in honoring Bradley R. Straatsma, MD, JD, as recipient of the Laureate Recognition Award at its 114th Annual Meeting.
Born in Grand Rapids, Mich., Dr. Straatsma's education included the Universityof Michigan and Yale University School of Medicine. Following internship at Yale and two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, which involved duty with the Navy Frogmen, he completed ophthalmology residency at the Harkness Institute of Columbia University. His education was further enhanced by fellowships at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., and the Wilmer Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
While a fellow at the Wilmer Institute, Dr. Straatsma was recruited as the first full-time chief of the division of ophthalmology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1959. Shortly thereafter, he began planning for ophthalmology as the core of an organized research unit, defined at the University of California as an academic agency to coordinate and promote research and education in a broad subject area that extended beyond departmental boundaries.
In 1961, Dr. Straatsma enlisted the support of Jules Stein, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist and the founder of Music Corporation of America, who became a major philanthropist. With strong support from Dr. Stein, his family, friends and the university, the Jules Stein Eye Institute opened its doors on the UCLA campus in 1966. Dr. Straatsma was appointed director of this institute and in 1968 the first chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology, positions he held until stepping down in 1994.
Dr. Straatsma served the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (AAOO) as the first secretary for continuing education in ophthalmology from 1969 to 1974, with an exceptional secretariat composed of Drs. Bruce Spivey, Melvin Rubin, Robert Reinecke, Paul Lichter and David Paton. Drs. Straatsma and Spivey launched the Ophthalmology Basic and Clinical Science Course (now just the Basic and Clinical Science Course). Dr. Rubin authored the Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program and the committee initiated programs that formed a foundation for the current preeminent educational programs of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
At a time of Academy transition, Dr. Straatsma was elected president-elect (1976) and president (1977) of the AAOO. As the last president of the AAOO, he presided during division of the organization and the critical process of organizing the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Among his innovations of the period were establishment of the first Academy "office of governmental relations" in Washington, D.C., and initiation of the Academy journal Ophthalmology.
Among other leadership positions, Dr. Straatsma was elected president, Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology; chairman, AMA Section on Ophthalmology; chairman, Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology; chairman, American Board of Ophthalmology; editor-in-chief, American Journal of Ophthalmology; president, American Ophthalmological Society; president, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology; president, Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis and president, International Council of Ophthalmology Foundation. While engaged in these activities, he attended the University of West Los Angeles School of Law and received his JD degree in 2002.
His more than 550 scientific publications include authorship and co-authorship of books and reports on vitreoretinal degeneration, retinal disease, choroidal melanoma and ophthalmic education.
Incorporating these studies, Dr. Straatsma has presented more than 50 distinguished and named lectures, including the Edward Jackson Memorial Lecture. He has received more 75 honors and awards from universities and organizations worldwide.