Robert Jampel, MD, PhD, former director of Kresge Eye Institute, dies at 94

During his 24-year tenure as chair of the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s department of ophthalmology and director of the Kresge Eye Institute, Dr. Jampel oversaw the growth of the department.

Robert Jampel, MD, PhD, dedicated his career to ensuring that people had access to quality eye care, and he would frequently note that "eyesight is quality of life."

Dr. Jampel, the former chair of the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s department of ophthalmology and director of the Kresge Eye Institute, died Nov. 26. He was 94.

His death was announced this week in a release by Wayne State University.

Dr. Jampel served as chair of the ophthalmology department at Wayne State and director of the Kresge Eye Institute from 1970 to 1994.

“Dr. Jampel was my chairman as a medical student and resident,” Mark Juzych, MD, the current chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences, said in the statement. “He was a humble and kind person who treated everyone with deep respect. He was a devoted father and family man.”

A 1950 graduate of College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, Dr. Jampel completed a neurology residency and an ophthalmic residency at the University of Michigan. He also received a doctoral degree in anatomy. He joined the faculty of the State University of New York in 1958. A decade later, in 1968, he became a neuro-ophthalmologist at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Institute of Ophthalmology.

In 1970, Dr. Jampel was appointed professor and chair of the WSU Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Kresge Eye Institute.

According to the release, under Dr. Jampel’s leadership, Kresge Eye Institute’s growth resulted in two relocations. He recruited clinical faculty and full-time research scientists to the institute, which has become a national leader in cataracts, corneal disease, glaucoma, reconstructive surgery, retina and neuro-ophthalmology, and diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Jampel leaves behind a lasting legacy at Wayne State University.

The Kresge Eye Institute’s Robert S. Jampel, MD, PhD, Auditorium is named for the fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, as is the Robert S. Jampel, MD, PhD Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology, the Robert S. Jampel, MD, PhD, Lectureship in Ophthalmology, and the Robert S. Jampel, MD, PhD, Endowed Prize in Ophthalmology.

“Dr. Jampel always supported research, and he himself would present his data at our yearly ARVO practice run before the meeting,” said Linda Hazlett, PhD, the Robert S. Jampel, MD, PhD, Endowed Chair of Ophthalmology, and vice dean of Research and Graduate Programs. “I am honored to hold the chair he endowed, which supports ophthalmology research.”

A private funeral service was held for the family on Nov. 29.

Dr. Jampel is survived by his wife, Joan; sons, Dr. Henry (Dr. Risa) Jampel and James (Dr. Sandra Marwill) Jampel; daughters, Delia (John Frank) Jampel and Emily (Ted) Sherman; and many grandchildren.

The family suggests that those wishing to honor Dr. Jampel’s memory may make a contribution to: Wayne State University Gift Processing, P.O. Box 674602, Detroit, MI, 48201-4602, Memo: Jampel KEI Growth and Maintenance Fund.