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Richard H. Masland pass away

Richard H. Masland, Distinguished David G. Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology and Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) passed away on Friday, December 13

It is with sadness that I write to let you know that Richard H. Masland, PhD, passed away on Friday, December 13. A talented retinal neuroscientist, Dr. Masland was the Distinguished David G. Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology and Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Trained in neurophysiology, Dr. Masland joined HMS and Mass General Hospital in 1971. He was also an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1993 to 2006, and he later became the Director of the Howe Laboratory and Associate Chief for Ophthalmology Research at Mass. Eye and Ear in 2009.

In a career spanning multiple disciplines and over four decades, he achieved international recognition for his retinal neurobiology research and received numerous awards, including the 2010 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s Proctor Medal. Notably, he was the first to describe the neuronal organization of the retina—a system containing more than 60 cell types. His ambitious and collaborative retinal atlas project was fundamental to the understanding of vision and retinal disease and has opened up new avenues of investigation and potential therapies for a host of ophthalmic disorders.

A beloved faculty member and generous teacher, Dr. Masland trained more than 25 postdoctoral trainees, including Joseph F. Rizzo III, MD, David G. Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology in the field of Neuro-Ophthalmology at HMS and Director of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Service at Mass. Eye and Ear; and Tatjana C. Jakobs, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at HMS and Assistant Scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear.

Dr. Masland recently completed a book entitled, We Know It When We See It: What the Neurobiology of Vision Tells Us About How We Think. The book, available in March 2020, describes the wonders of vision and perception in an approachable but profound way.

We will continue to celebrate his accomplishments and devotion. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family, especially his wife Jean; son John, who works at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear; and daughter Molly.

Sincerely,
Joan. W. Miller, MD
Chair, Harvard Ophthalmology