“I am indeed honored to receive this prize. It means much to me to be thought of as involved in the advancement of ophthalmology, the medical specialty of my father and brother,” Dowling commented.
Dowling has spent his seven decades of research – beginning as an undergraduate and eventually as the Gordon and Lura Gund Professor of Neurosciences Emeritus – studying the vertebrate retina as a model piece of the brain. His work began with rats and vitamin A deficiency, then turned to primates for cellular and synaptic analyses, before moving on to aquatic animals such as mudpuppies, skates, and zebrafish for physiological, pharmacological, and genetic studies. Throughout his career, he has encouraged his students and fellows to pursue their studies using cutting-edge techniques such as electron microscopy, single cell electrophysiological recordings, and forward and behavioral genetics. He earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Harvard before becoming an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department. After a seven-year stint at Johns Hopkins, he returned to Harvard as Professor of Biology in 1971.
“Over the years, I have had many students, fellows and collaborators from whom I have learned as much, if not more, than I taught them,” Dowling said. “Most have continued in vision research, which is most gratifying, and they are now contributing substantially to the field.”
The Muse Prize award ceremony will take place on November 17. Dowling will give the Muse Prize lecture at 4pm which can be viewed on Zoom as well as in person.