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Inauguration of the Dr. Frieda Derdeyn Bambas Professorship

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The Tradition of Endowed Professorships

The first endowed professorships were established nearly 500 years ago with the creation of the Lady Margaret chairs in divinity at Oxford and Cambridge. These chairs were sponsored by Margaret, Countess of Richmond, and grandmother of Henry VIII in 1546. Henry VIII established the Regius Professorships at both universities in five subjects: divinity, civil law, Hebrew, Greek, and physics—what we now know as medicine and the basic sciences. Later, private individuals joined in providing chairs, such as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, which Isaac Newton held beginning in 1669. The honor associated with appointment to an endowed position has remained unchanged since then.

At The Johns Hopkins University, endowed professorships are especially important to our ongoing mission of teaching, research, and patient care. Endowment that allows for the hiring and retention of the best faculty is the foundation on which our success is built.

Recognized as the highest honor Johns Hopkins Medicine can bestow upon a member of our faculty, the men and women who hold endowed professorships conduct some of our most significant research, attract bright and dedicated students, and bring considerable prestige to the Johns Hopkins name.

More information on the website of Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins

Frieda Derdeyn Bambas, Ph.D., M.A.

Frieda Derdeyn Bambas, Ph.D., M.A.
Image Frieda Derdeyn Bambas

Frieda Gabriele Marie Joseph Derdeyn, who later became Dr. Frieda Bambas, was nine years old when she and her mother emigrated from Belgium to the United States prior to World War I to join her father, who had left earlier to establish himself in the U.S.

The family settled first in Illinois and then in Oklahoma, where Dr. Bambas graduated from the University of Oklahoma before going on to receive graduate degrees from Middlebury College (M.A.) and the University of Oklahoma (Ph.D.). According to her nephew, Conrad Derdeyn of Austin, Texas, Dr. Bambas, “fit in very well in the university environment. She has always been a very sociable person, full of personality, as well as a dedicated teacher.” During her academic career as a professor of French, Dr. Bambas taught at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma before retiring in 1974.

Following the passing of her husband, Rudolph Bambas, a professor of English, in 1998, she established scholarships at a number of colleges, including the University of Oklahoma, Carnegie Mellon, and Middlebury College. The scope of her philanthropy has created an enormous impact at colleges and institutions across the country, including the Wilmer Eye Institute. Her remarkable journey ended in September 2005 at the age of 100.

In appreciation for the care she received at Wilmer during treatment for macular degeneration in 2002, Dr. Bambas made a provision in her will to establish the Dr. Frieda Derdeyn Bambas Professorship in Ophthalmology.

Image 01 Inauguration Bambas Professorship
Image 02 Inauguration Bambas Professorship
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The inaugural recipient: Hendrik P.N. Scholl

Hendrik P.N. Scholl, M.D., M.A., is considered one of the preeminent retinal dystrophy experts in the world. He came to Wilmer in 2010 from Bonn, Germany, after an international search. He leads the Retinal Degeneration Section within the Retina Division at the Wilmer Eye Institute and is head of the Visual Neurophysiology Service.

Dr. Scholl attended Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany where he studied both medicine and philosophy. In 1994, he was elected for a scholarship to join the medical program of Brown University, Providence, RI. Subsequently, at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen, he pursued his thesis, “Motion thresholds of colored stimuli of different luminance contrasts are increased in ocular hypertension and early primary-open-angle-glaucoma” and presented to the faculty of Philosophy his thesis, “Remembrance and authenticity.” He graduated with the degree of Dr. med. (Medical Doctor) and Magister Artium (Master of Arts) in 1997.

He completed his residency at the University Eye Hospital of Tübingen. While there, he established the Laboratory for Cone Type Specific Electroretinography. The lab was connected to the Specialized Clinic for Inherited Retinal Degenerations at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen, led by Eberhart Zrenner. Professor Zrenner is one of the top experts worldwide in this area.

In 2001, Dr. Scholl was awarded a Clinical Research Fellowship by the German Research Foundation and spent this fellowship with Alan Bird at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London. Professor Bird is one of the most renowned experts outside of the U.S. in the field of retinal degenerations.

After his fellowship, Dr. Scholl joined the faculty of the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen. In 2004 he received the prestigious Heisenberg fellowship awarded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Dr. Scholl has been the only clinician scientist in ophthalmology who ever obtained this honor. In 2004, he was recruited to the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Bonn, and joined the faculty as a Privatdozent (equivalent to Associate Professor). In 2008, he established the department as an international clinical trial center. Clinically, he served as a vitreoretinal surgeon and coordinated the Specialized Clinic for Inherited Retinal and Macular Diseases being a tertiary referral center in Germany. He was head of the Clinical Electrophysiology Unit and the Low Vision Center.

Dr. Scholl’s work in the area of genetically determined panretinal and macular dystrophies and age-related macular degeneration, has substantially contributed to the understanding of the pathophysiology of blinding eye diseases. His research contributions represent an extraordinary advancement in the field and Dr. Scholl is internationally recognized for his innovative and pioneering work in this area. He presents a unique combination as being one of the few retinal dystrophy experts in the world who is also an accomplished surgeon.

Translational research of ophthalmic neurodegenerative disorders has been the focus of Dr. Scholl’s research activities. In a period of only 12 years, Dr. Scholl has published more than 90 peer-reviewed original and review articles. In the most cited journal in the field, Investigative Ophthalmology, Dr. Scholl has published 16 times. He also has published his work outside the eye literature in such journals as Nature, Journal of Immunology, American Journal of Human Genetics, Human Molecular Genetics and PLoS ONE. 

As a result of his seminal works and international acclaim Dr. Scholl was able to obtain an array of grant awards. He has been a key player in large international multicenter projects funded by the European Commission. In his first month at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Scholl was awarded the Wynn-Gund Translational Research Acceleration Program Enhanced Research and Clinical Training Award by the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI). That same month he also received the Macular Degeneration Research Award by the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF). 

Dr. Scholl has received numerous national awards in Germany. In 2008 he received the prestigious European Vision Award. He has been the only clinician-scientist to ever receive this honor.

The Hendrik P.N. Scholl Laudatio

by Eberhart Zrenner

"I am very thrilled to introduce one of my most gifted former students on this particular occasion. Who is Dr. Hendrik Scholl? I accepted him as a doctoral student at Tuebingen University because he asked most intelligent questions and had a broad mind, and was working - in parallel to medical school - also towards an Master of Arts in philosophy. In 1997 he earned two degrees, an M.D. degree with a fascinating thesis on early detection of glaucoma and a Master of Arts in Philosophy.

In 1994, he earned a scholarship to join the medical program at Brown University for a year.

And of course, he especially loves Ophthalmology!

As a fellow of the German Research Foundation, he spent two years with Dr. Alan Bird, one of the most renowned experts in the field of retinal degenerations at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London; there he entered research of age-related macular degeneration and the new methods of autofluorescence and multimodal mapping of retinal function and morphology.

In 2004 Dr. Scholl received the venia legendi from the Medical Faculty in Tübingen, and I had the pleasure to introduce his first inaugural lecture.

His groundbreaking work made him internationally known in a very short time: He regularly was invited for lectures abroad and presented at ARVO.

In 2004 he went to Bonn University after being awarded the most prestigious Heisenberg Professorship for his work on retinal degeneration, and started another very fruitful period in his career. He remains to be the only clinically active ophthalmologist who ever received this honor in Germany.

It is remarkable how his work continuously attracts a crowd of young highly motivated postdocs with whom he published a firework of outstanding papers on retinal degenerations including AMD using techniques like retinal imaging, genetics and proteomics besides working as a vitreoretinal surgeon and running a Clinic for Inherited Retinal and Macular Diseases.

His pioneering work in this area earned him the prestigious European Vision Award and I had the pleasure as - chairman of the European Vision Institute - to hand him the award.

In Bonn he organized a memorable international meeting on AMD with world class experts which intensified research in Germany in this extremely important area. 

In a period of only 12 years, Dr. Scholl has published more than 90 peer-reviewed original and review articles in highly recognized journals such as Nature, Journal of Immunology, American Journal of Human Genetics, Human Molecular Genetics, IOVS and PLoS ONE, which earned him also an array of grant awards from the European Commission.

Of course we wanted to keep this rising star in Germany and the German Pro Retina Foundation was 2010 on the way to establish an endowed professorship for Dr. Scholl.

However other most recognized colleagues had him already on the radar screen. Of course to recognize such talents is a talent by itself and unfortunately Wilmer Eye Hospital has people with very fine sensors for outstanding talents.

Moreover, Wilmer's most modern resources and a unique environment to work with a team of world experts is hard to beat if it comes down to attract the best of the best. Germany lost this time.

Clearly Dr. Hendrik Scholl has taken the most fantastic opportunity imaginable and had a most rewarding start of his career in the US. In his first month at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Scholl was awarded the Wynn-Gund Translational Research Grant and Career Award by the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI) and the Macular Degeneration Research Award by the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF). He was invited to the US-Congress to inform about current research in AMD in his first year at Hopkins.

Fortunately, good science is global and I am very happy that my former student, who later on became my resident and then colleague has become a member of the world's number one Institution for, leading the Retinal Degeneration Section and the Visual Neurophysiology Service at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

I am also bringing best wishes from our colleagues in Germany and I may say - also on behalf of this audience - that we all wish you - lieber Herr Scholl - a bright enjoyable and successful future."

Hendrik P.N. Scholl, MD, MA

The Dr. Frieda Derdeyn Bambas Professor of Ophthalmology

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Wilmer Eye Institute, M-748
Baltimore, MD 21287
Phone: (410) 614-6908

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