The Academy is pleased to present its 2013 Laureate Award to Daniel M. Albert, MD, in recognition of his seminal contributions to ophthalmology, including those in patient care, education, research, ophthalmic history, medical ethics, journal editing and administration.
Dr. Albert is a native of Newark, New Jersey. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., and went on to receive his medical schooling at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. An ophthalmology residency followed at the same institution, under the legendary Harold Scheie, MD.
Fellowship training was next for Dr. Albert. He undertook two of them: the first as a clinical associate at the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, the forerunner of the National Eye Institute; the second as an NIH Special Fellow in Ophthalmic Pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology under the tutelage of the late Academy Laureate Lorenz E. Zimmerman, MD, putatively the father of ophthalmic pathology. During this fellowship, Dr. Albert formulated what has turned out to be the research foundation of his entire laboratory career as he described the ultrastructure of retinoblastoma and melanoma and established animal models of these tumors.
Dr. Albert's academic career began at Yale University and continued at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. In Boston, Dr. Albert was a protégée and long-time close friend of the late and renowned David Cogan, MD, director of the Howe Laboratory at Harvard Medical School. Particularly meaningful for Dr. Albert was his 1983 appointment to Harvard's Cogan chair in ophthalmology.
Since 1992, when Dr. Albert moved to Madison to become department chair, he has been on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Medical School where he is now chair emeritus of ophthalmology and visual sciences, the Frederick Allison Davis Chair; the Lorenz Zimmerman Professor; and founding director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute. There, he continues to study tumor growth and inhibition, the subject of his interest throughout his career.Having delved in depth into the anti-tumor properties of vitamin D compounds and finding that they can cause apoptosis and block tumor angiogenesis to inhibit growth of retinoblastoma cells in vitro, Dr. Albert is hopeful that an effective treatment molecule will evolve to treat this tumor.
More recently, Dr. Albert has studied resveratrol, which he has found to inhibit and sometimes block tumor growth in animal models of cancer, one of which is uveal melanoma. He is hopeful that compatible formulations of resveratrol and effective ways to deliver the drug will serve as an efficacious treatment for melanoma and for prevention or treatment of metastatic disease. At present, Dr. Albert's research extends his tumor inhibition studies to employ anti-angiogenesis compounds to treat wet age-related macular degeneration. He is a co-investigator on a new federal grant with responsibility for the pathology studies on animal models in pre-clinical testing.
A prolific contributor to the medical literature, Dr. Albert has well beyond 800 publications to his credit, including peer-reviewed papers, editorials, textbooks and book chapters. A widely used general ophthalmology text, Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology, is now in its third edition, with Dr. Albert continuing as its senior editor. Notably, the book's original edition received the Association of American Publishers Best Medical Book award in 1993.
Beyond his outsized record of laboratory and clinical publications, Dr. Albert is a renowned ophthalmic historian, having published widely in the field, including texts that encompass the breadth of ophthalmic history.What is more, Dr. Albert has served the profession as an editorial board member of nine scientific journals, most notable of which was his recently completed 20-year stint as editor-in-chief of Archives of Ophthalmology — newly re-named JAMA Ophthalmology. Dr. Albert also served as director of the American Board of Ophthalmology from 1997-2005 and as president of the American Ophthalmological Society from 2005-2006.
As one might imagine, Dr. Albert's enormous achievements have been recognized time and again with important awards and recognition. Notable examples include the Friedenwald Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology; the Zimmerman Medal of the American Association of Ocular Pathologists; the Humboldt Research Award of the Alexander Humboldt Foundation; the Pisart Vision Award; the Albert C. Muse Prize for excellence in ophthalmology; the Research to Prevent Blindness Special Research Scholar Award and the Lucien Howe Medal from the American Ophthalmological Society. In addition, Dr. Albert was among the youngest individuals ever elected to membership in Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis. To recognize Dr. Albert's achievements, in 2008 the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health established the Daniel M. Albert Chair in Visual Sciences.