Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Alward Receives Iowa Regents Faculty Excellence Award

Dr. W. Lee. Alward

Dr. W.L.M. Alward has been recognized by the Iowa Regents Award for Faculty Excellence for 2012. The Regents Award for Faculty Excellence is given by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa to honor faculty members for work representing a significant contribution to excellence in public education. 

Dr. Alward is an international leader in glaucoma research and education. He has been at the center of several landmark genetic discoveries that have shaped the direction of new research and the development of new therapies. The core curriculum he developed for UI ophthalmology residents ensures that graduates receive superior training in glaucoma. He has personally trained more than 100 resident physicians and 30 fellow physicians in glaucoma surgery and advanced medical care. His impact on glaucoma education extends worldwide through the website he created, www.gonioscopy.org, which shares photographs and movies of hundreds of rare and common examination findings and is an invaluable resource for ophthalmologists around the world. Alward has served on many surgical teams that have traveled to developing countries and taught local surgeons the latest techniques for advanced patient care. He has served as a leader for the most prestigious associations in ophthalmology and currently serves as chair of the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Alward received his undergraduate degree at Kenyon College in Ohio and attended medical school at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. He did a surgical internship at the University of Pittsburgh. Following his internship he spent six years in the United States Public Health Service in Alaska. Four of these years were with the Indian Health Service and two with the Centers for Disease Control at their Arctic Investigations Laboratory. Following his tour in the Public Health Service he did an ophthalmology residency at the University of Louisville followed by a glaucoma fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.

Dr. Alward joined the faculty of the University of Iowa in 1987 and is now a Professor of Ophthalmology, the vice-chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Director of the Iowa Glaucioma Center. He also holds the Frederick C. Blodi Chair in Ophthalmology. He chairs the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) in 2012, He has served on the ABO board of directors since 2006 and was vice chair in 2011. His term on the board of directors expires in 2014.

Dr. Alward’s areas of research interest include pigmentary glaucoma, combined glaucoma and cataract surgery, normal tension glaucoma, and gonioscopy. The major focus of his research over the last many years has been the molecular genetics of glaucoma. In collaboration with Edwin Stone and Val Sheffield, Dr. Alward was part of the team that described the first gene for primary open angle glaucoma. Other genes that have come from the University of Iowa are those for Rieger’s syndrome, Rieger’s anomaly, and anterior segment mesenchymal dysgenesis.