Richard H. Masland, PhD

Richard H. Masland, PhD

(June 12, 1942 — December 13, 2019)
Former Distinguished David Glendenning Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Neurobiology
Richard H. Masland, PhD

A talented retinal neuroscientist, the late Richard H. Masland, PhD, 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, Dr. Masland 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 advanced our understanding of the neuronal organization of the retina, which in turn, provided fundamental information about vision and retinal disease. A potential therapy for blindness, based partly on his work, is currently under clinical trial. 

In his personal life, Dr. Masland enjoyed sailing, boating, and building things. He was also an avid reader who loved to write. Upon giving up his laboratory, he turned to writing as an occupation. 

He 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.

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.

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