Ophthalmic pathologist Dr. Zimmerman dies

April 10, 2013

Lorenz E. Zimmerman, MD, the founder of modern ophthalmic pathology, who spent his career studying diseases of the eye, died March 16, 2013 of complications from an infection.

Towson, MD-Lorenz E. Zimmerman, MD, the founder of modern ophthalmic pathology, who spent his nearly 60-year career studying diseases of the eye, died March 16 of complications from an infection. He was 92.

“Without a doubt, Dr. Zimmerman was the most influential eye pathologist in the last 150 years. He was known worldwide and he trained all of the world’s leading eye pathologists of the 20th century,” said Dr. Morton F. Goldberg, former director of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1989 until 2003.

After serving in the army during the Korean War, in 1952 Dr. Zimmerman began his career at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This was the turning point in his career, although he had not had specific training in pathology of the eye and ocular adnexa, according to his daughter, Mary Louise “Lou” Collins, MD, director of pediatric ophthalmology and resident education at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Dr. Zimmerman remained there for the next 52 years and chaired the department of ophthalmic pathology from 1954 to 1983. He was chairman emeritus at his death.

Dr. Zimmerman’s role was not treating patients but rather studying eye tissue and cells that may lead to eye disease. He made important contributions to the understanding of the causes of leukocoria, or white pupil, and ocular melanoma.

Dr. Zimmerman was a professor of pathology and ophthalmology at Georgetown University from 1983 to 1986 and was a consultant in pathology from 1976 to 1999 at Washington Hospital Center. He was also a professor of ophthalmology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins Medical School. He retired in 2002.

“He was a man of no pretensions,” said Dr. Goldberg. “He loved teaching and doing original research and was exceptional at both.”

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