Beacon Stories

Dec 27, 2021

In Memoriam: Dr. Alan Laties – Early Leader in Retinal Research

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Alan M. Laties, MD, was a recognized leader in the field of ophthalmology. Dr. Laties completed residency training in ophthalmology and became a special fellow of the National Institues of Health (NIH) at the Institute of Neurological Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, later joining the faculty with a joint appointment in ophthalmology and neurology. Thereafter, he served as neuro-ophthalmologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania while pursuing research interests that mainly concerned autonomic innervation, eye growth, and therapeutic approaches to retinal degenerations. Dr. Laties specialized in clinical ophthalmology and molecular etiology of retinal diseases.

Alan M. Laties, MD

Dr. Laties was extremely active in the Foundation Fighting Blindness community. Dr. Laties was the Foundation’s first Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) chair, serving for 32 years. He also served unofficially as the Foundation’s first chief scientific officer. In honor of Dr. Laties commitment to finding treatments for retinal diseases, the Foundation named one of its first award programs to support physicians’ and physician-scientists’ career development through the duration of their career, the Alan Laties Career Development Program.

He also served as editor-in-chief of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science and was a member of the National Advisory Eye Council. In addition, he served as the Harold G. Scheie Research Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

“He served not only as the chair of the SAB but was heavily involved as essentially the chief scientific officer for many years,” says Gordon Gund, co-founder, director, chairman emeritus of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. “He and those he helped to bring on the SAB in the early years gave us tremendous credibility from late 1972 on. Our research efforts would not be anywhere near as far along after 50 years without him.”

Dr. Laties championed many Foundation programs, along with many other critical initiatives, and was the first recipient of the Llura Liggett Gund Award.

Alan M. Laties, MD, passed away on Sunday, December 26 at the age of 90.