Claes H. Dohlman, Harvard Medical School (HMS) professor of ophthalmology emeritus and cornea surgeon at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI), received the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s most prestigious award, the Laureate Recognition Award, at the academy’s annual meeting Nov. 10-13 in New Orleans. In addition, a new HMS professorship named in his honor was announced at a special reception at the meeting.
Dohlman’s surgical innovations in keratoplasty and keratoprosthesis have made him internationally recognized as the “father” of modern corneal science.
Born in Sweden, Dohlman received his schooling in Lund, earning his medical degree in 1950. Eight years later, he was invited to come to Boston and work at what was then the Retina Foundation (now Schepens Eye Research Institute), as well as at the MEEI and HMS.
After his arrival in Boston, Dohlman started the Cornea Service at MEEI for the clinical care of corneal patients, as well as related training and clinical research. He also started a laboratory for corneal physiology at the Retina Foundation. His research during this time changed from biochemistry to corneal physiology, and included work in the areas of corneal edema and corneal nutrition. A number of clinical studies on keratoplasty, corneal edema, herpetic infections, and trauma were published in collaboration with his fellows.
In 1968, Dohlman was appointed assistant professor of ophthalmology at HMS; a year later, associate professor; and in 1974, full professor. That same year, he became chairman of Harvard’s Department of Ophthalmology, chief of ophthalmology at MEEI, and director of the Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology at Harvard. In 1989, at the age of 67, Dohlman retired from administrative positions but continued working full time with corneal patients, teaching residents and fellows, and conducting research. At 85, Dohlman continues to work full time at the MEEI.