Dear members of Keratocyte Klub,
As most of you know by now, David Maurice, a vital member of the eye and vision research community, died on July 20, 2002, after a long battle with liver cancer.
As a result we have one less member with a forthright voice, and the loss is felt deeply by those who knew him well.
To remember the extraordinary individual that is David Maurice, I wrote the following note by a request of the Keratocyte Klub organizers, as one of his last students who worked with him during the last 8 years of his life. I hope it will illuminate at least one small aspect of him to this group.
Some of you may remember that David spoke at our annual meeting in 2000. He talked about a novel microscopic technique for visualizing keratocytes in a living mouse. Although his talk was not directly related to the physiological function of keratocytes, it represented his unique style of approach to a variety of problems he tackled.
David was introducing an original technique to a defined biological problem, which was exactly what he had done for 50 years as a distinguished ocular physiologist. It was a small part of who he was, but it was an essential one.
David was always striving for new techniques and always contemplating to improve upon existing ones. Some of his innovations, byproducts of his pursuit to the truth, were truly seminal as history will put them in proper perspective.
He constructed a specular microscope by dismantling a regular Bausch & Lomb microscope by himself in 1960's because he wanted to watch the corneal cells in situ. He designed and constructed a special mouse holder for a fluorescence microscope by himself in 1990's because he wanted to watch the corneal cells move in a live mouse.
David would have loved the ongoing discussion on keratocyte nomenclature. He had an opinion on everything, in particular the English language. (I'm sorry to say I disappointed him on this subject.) As a point of reference, he was a major instigator of a controversy regarding pachymeter vs. pachometer.
We will never know what original thought he would have thrown at us to flare up the argument (his favorite activity), but there is one thing I'm certain that he would have said to us all, "Keep it simple, guys."
David wrote a brief autobiography which is a collection of amusing accounts as told by David Maurice as a humorist and also as an outspoken critique of current research climate. It was published in Experimental Eye Research (he was one of its founding editors) when he received the Von Sallmann prize in 1996 (EER 1998,66:147).
We prepared brief obituary on the web for those who are not familiar with his extraordinary life.
We are also planning a web site dedicated to his memory. Any contribution to it is welcome from all.
With special thanks to our leaders, Drs. Fini, Jester, and Wilson, for this opportunity.
Best regards to all,
Takayuki Nagasaki <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dept of Ophthalmology, Columbia University