David G. Cogan, MD

  • Presented: 
  • Recognition: 
    ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame


“To have such a seminal influence on your field is given to very few people…how a man could by virtue of his mental agility, skills, and kindness catapult to the top remains an example and a lesson.” 
—Frederick A. Jakobiec, MD

David Glendenning Cogan was introduced to ophthalmology by his mother, herself a pioneering ophthalmologist, and was mentored by Frederick Verhoeff. At the age of 32, he succeeded Verhoeff as director of Harvard’s Howe Laboratory, which had a tremendous influence on ophthalmic research during Cogan’s 30-year stewardship. He believed the essence of investigation was originality, curiosity and perseverance, and fostered that spirit in the talented clinicians and basic scientists he recruited to Howe. He later served as director of neuro ophthalmology at the National Eye Institute. Among Cogan’s important scientific contributions were studies of the cornea, optic nerve, and ocular muscles; improved understanding of diabetic retinopathy and the effects of radiation on the lens; and several definitive textbooks. He is regarded as one of the great masters of ophthalmic pathology and neuro-ophthalmology, as well as a superb mentor who brought out the best in those around him.