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  • Lorenz E. Zimmerman, MDThe American Academy of Ophthalmology takes special pride in honoring Lorenz E. Zimmerman, MD, as its recipient of the Laureate Recognition Award at the 110th Annual Meeting.

    Recognized as the founder of modern ophthalmic pathology, Dr. Zimmerman has dedicated his life to the study of the pathologic basis of ocular disease. As a scientist, investigator, writer, but most significantly as a teacher, no physician has had a greater impact on ophthalmic pathology. Dr. Zimmerman has trained over 50 fellows in the field of ophthalmic pathology, who are now located worldwide.

    Born in Washington, DC, on Nov. 15, 1920, Dr. Zimmerman was educated in the city of Washington, graduating from the George Washington University for both his undergraduate and medical degrees. He served an internship at the DC General Hospital and then completed a general pathology residency at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1950. The start of the Korean War coincided with the end of his residency, and Dr. Zimmerman became the pathologist in charge of a field hospital pathology laboratory where he served in Korea until 1952. For this service, he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit.

    In 1952, Dr. Zimmerman returned to Washington, where he was again stationed on the campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, this time at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. This was the turning point in Dr. Zimmerman's career. Although he had not had specific training in pathology of the eye and ocular adnexa, Dr. Zimmerman eventually became Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmic Pathology in 1954. This was the start of a 52-year stint at the AFIP, during which time, Dr. Zimmerman was a prolific author, lecturer, and teacher.

    Dr. Zimmerman was co-author of the original Hogan and Zimmerman Ophthalmic Pathology text, first published in 1962. He contributed to subsequent editions, and the latest, Spencer's Ophthalmic Pathology, is now 4 volumes. He has also authored over 300 articles in peer-reviewed journals, many of which are landmark contributions. He has delivered over 80 named lectureships including the 1960 Jackson Memorial Lecture. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has previously honored Dr. Zimmerman with the creation of the Lorenz E. Zimmerman lecture, given at the Annual Meeting. He was a founding member of the Verhoeff Society for Ophthalmic Pathology; in 1998, to honor Dr. Zimmerman's contributions, the Society voted to change the name to the Verhoeff-Zimmerman Society.

    Organizations from all ophthalmic sub-specialties have honored Dr. Zimmerman. He has been the recipient of numerous medals including The Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research, the Pisart award, the Donders Medal of the Netherlands, and he is the only non-ophthalmologist to receive the Lucien Howe Medal of the American Ophthalmologic Society. He was also voted by his peers to be one of the 20th century's ten most influential ophthalmologists. Dr. Zimmerman holds an honorary degree from the University of Illinois.

    Despite all of these honors, Dr. Zimmerman remains, as he has always been, an unassuming, modest, and unpretentious individual. When asked about his accomplishments, Dr. Zimmerman will state that his greatest fortune was to be able to interact with so many of the young, brilliant and talented physicians and scientists over the years. Students of Dr. Zimmerman admire him for his honesty, in his scientific endeavors, in what he demanded of his students, and in his personal life. Through his work, Dr. Zimmerman was able to make seminal contributions to the practice of ophthalmology including the recognition of various entities causing leukocoria and the management of ocular melanoma, but his family remained his top priority. Dr. Zimmerman is retired and resides with his wife, Stasch, in Baltimore, Maryland. They have 6 children, 14 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.

    Dr. Zimmerman is honored at the 2006 Joint Meeting for his distinguished career and contributions to ophthalmology. It is with great pleasure that the Academy welcomes Dr. Lorenz E Zimmerman as a 2006 Academy Laureate.