[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
Citations 0
February 2003

David M. Maurice, PhD (1922-2002)

Arch Ophthalmol. 2003;121(2):298. doi:10.1001/archopht.121.2.298

David M. Maurice, one of the most brilliant ophthalmic scientists of all time, died on July 20, 2002. He was 80 years old and the cause of death was long-standing carcinoid malignancy with liver involvement.

David M. Maurice, PhD

David M. Maurice, PhD

Born in London, England, David Maurice received a degree in physics from the University of Reading in 1942 after which he was drafted into his country's radar evasion program in World War II. After the war, encouraged by Sir Stewart Duke-Elder and tutored by Hugh Davson, he entered graduate studies in physiology and completed his PhD degree in 1951. The subject of his thesis was corneal permeability and he also presented the first proposal of the pump leak hypothesis of hydration control—a classic.

His first research employment was at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London. There he developed a theory for explaining the physical basis of corneal transparency. A number of subsequent landmark papers dealt with aqueous humor dynamics, permeability of various structures to ions and proteins, active transport, intraocular pressure, and tear dynamics, to name a few. His unique characteristic was to choose important problems and apply seemingly simple and practical solutions. For instance, he introduced flourescein as a very important tool in investigating aqueous humor flow. This technique is being extensively used in ocular research, especially in pharmacology.

In 1968 he moved to the United States but retained his British citizenship. He settled at Stanford University where he became a research professor of ophthalmology. He continued to develop a specular microscope, which subsequently has become a widely used, routine tool for evaluating the corneal endothelium in health and disease. It has also become valuable for screening donor corneas for transplantation. Together with a long list of fellows he developed highly original methods for impression cytology of the conjunctiva, penetration of drugs into the eye, and measurements of toxic side effects to the eye. He even entered such domains as eye movements, myopia, and retinal detachment.

Always somewhat of a wanderer, David Maurice spent extended periods at other centers for eye research such as in Boston, Mass, Jerusalem, Israel, and Rome, Italy. In 1993 he finally resettled at Columbia University in New York City as professor of ocular physiology. Up to the time of his death he was fully active in the laboratory and was also funded by the National Institutes of Health.

As could be expected, he was the recipient of many awards, such as the von Sallmann Prize, the Friedenwald Award, the Prentice Memorial Medal of the American Academy of Optometry, and the Diaz Caneja Award of the University of Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain.

David was unique: lovable, mildly eccentric, humorous, a very good friend to many colleagues, and a very nurturing role model for numerous aspiring academics. He was a good tennis player, a music lover, a free spirit. In the scientific world he will be remembered for his exceptional intellect and originality; this was a world in which he felt completely at home. He once wrote about himself, "The ultimate reward is to have had my mind engaged and creativity challenged, almost on a daily basis. This is a privilege restricted to few occupations and I must be grateful."1 Indeed.

David Maurice is survived by his wife, Anna Morals, 3 daughters, Celia, Julia, and Ruth, and 4 grandchildren. He is also survived by his former wife Carlotta, the mother of his children.

Correspondence and reprints: Claes H. Dohlman, MD, PhD, Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114.

Maurice  DM An oneiropenic account of an ophthalmological career. Exp Eye Res. 1998;66147- 154Article