Memorial Resolution: David Maurice

DAVID MAURICE (1922-2002)David Maurice served as a professor of ophthalmology at Stanford for 25 years from 1968 to 1993, in the maturity of his career. He died July 20, 2002 in New York at the age of 80. David was born and educated in the U.K. and received his Ph.D. in physiology in 1951 from University College, London. He came to Stanford at the bidding of Ophthalmology Division Chief Frank Winter, and established a vigorous research laboratory in the basement of the research wing of the Medical School. His work during this period included critical studies on corneal fluid transport, on protein movement across ocular barriers, on ocular pharmacokinetics, and on new devices to inject drugs or monitor corneal function. He trained, and collaborated with, a number of scientists including Steve Klyce and Roger Beuerman, and he maintained links with research colleagues world-wide such as Sai Mishima. In 1967 he received the prestigious Friedenwald Memorial Award for distinguished contributions, given by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. He was a founding member of the international journal Experimental Eye Research.

Having listed these dry facts however, I must note that the Maurice era at Stanford was in many ways less unique for the science (which was of course superlative) than for David himself. His quick wit and lively mind made visits to the basement an adventure, ranging from a demonstration of bizarre technology, to a wicked repartee on the folly of questions asked, or to an impromptu role as experimental subject! The lab and David's office was often in chaos, but David knew where everything (and every reference) resided, and despite an attitude of English detachment from such unnecessary details, he was very thorough and careful in his science. He had special disdain for poor science, or indeed foolish thought of any vintage, and his commentary on such could be fiercely cynical and wicked. Yet, his clipped (and often rather barbed) remarks in one-on-one conversation masked a reticence to be in the public eye. Lectures and conferences were a challenge for him, and he often rambled and mumbled in a way that totally befuddled students or residents unaccustomed to the circuitous (but ultimately exact) paths of his mind.

David was loyal to his colleagues and friends, and was a fixture at Stanford that we all took for granted until his unexpected announcement of retirement (from Stanford, not work) in 1993, to become a research professor at Columbia University. His departure was a loss to our personal lives as well as our professional lives. David and Carlotta's music-oriented parties were unique and legendary. They gathered fine musicians in their home to play, and his comment on performance was often just a humph or a smirk which somehow told all. Their traditional Boxing Day (after Christmas) party brought friends together to eat, drink, share stories, and (if able) play chamber music. David sang beautifully, and was a part of a semi-professional choir. He was also a fiendish tennis player - more fiendish than subtle or consistent, but he played the game with gusto and was always an enjoyable (if occasionally frustrated) partner.

David was a singular individual, personally and scientifically. When he left Stanford, his rooms became sadly quiet and cold - and those of us left looked forward to his visits once or twice a year when he would return to see family and stop by the to say "Hello" to old Stanford friends. All is silent now, and there are no more visits . . . but David's memory lives on and urges us to be impatient with folly, to think beyond the routine, and to enjoy good music!


Michael F. Marmor

Peter R. Egbert