We Remember

Ronald Klein, MD, MPH

Ronald Klein MD, MPH, passed away on August 31, 2019. Ron was an esteemed faculty member of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences for over four decades. He shared his life and his life’s work with his partner of 54 years—Dr. Barbara Klein, who joined the department as a faculty member with Ron.

The Kleins led two landmark longitudinal epidemiologic studies—the Wisconsin Epidemiology Study of Diabetic Retinopathy and the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Both are groundbreaking studies spanning more than 20 years, and from their beginnings, laid the groundwork for much of our current understanding of vision impairment and its leading causes, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.

The Kleins have been at the forefront of new advances in ophthalmology and vision research, including imaging, genetics and disentangling gene-environment interactions. He authored or co-authored over 1,000 reports in peer-reviewed journals and more than 50 book chapters.

The Kleins have been recognized throughout the years for their seminal contributions to the field of ocular epidemiology, including the Retina Research Foundation Award of Merit (2004) and Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Freidenwald Award (2005). In 2020, to honor their legacy, ARVO has planned a mini-symposium on AMD and diabetic retinopathy entitled: “Epidemiology of Diabetic Retinopathy and Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Past, Present and Future—A Tribute to Barbara and Ronald Klein.”

Ron Klein’s impact on ocular epidemiology and our department for over forty years was immeasurable, and we will forever be grateful. Ron was indeed a trusted colleague and friend, a gentleman, an adventurous soul, and a powerhouse of intellect and wit who is deeply missed by all.

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