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Year : 1955  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 21-22



Correspondence Address:
S N Cooper

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How to cite this article:
Cooper S N. Obituary. Indian J Ophthalmol 1955;3:21-2

How to cite this URL:
Cooper S N. Obituary. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1955 [cited 2021 May 14];3:21-2. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?1955/3/1/21/33572

DR. Alfred Leber.

(Died 26th October, 1954)

It is with regret that we learn about the sad death of Dr. Alfred Leber who came to India not more than 8 years ago and took an active part in Indian Ophthalmology. Only a brief sketch can be prepared from the rather stacato information available about his chequered career.

The date and place of his birth are not available, and so we do not know at what age he died. We do not know whether he was married or single or whether he leaves behind someone to share the memories of his career previous to coming to India.

He took his basic education at Antwerp where he won the Grand Prix Concours Generaux de Belgiuque.

He passed the examination of the State Medical degree of the University of Heidelberg with distinction. He got his degree of Doctor of Medicine in Paris, working under Prof. Javal, Lendolt and Tscherning on the sub­ject of "Experimental Researches on the Theory of Accommodation of Tscherning".

He got his degree in Pathology and Bacteriology of the Eye at the Royal Institute for Infectious Diseases, Berlin and again for Tropical Diseases from the State Institute for Exotic and Tropical Disease, Hamburg. He was also "Dekter Genesheer"-Batavia, Dutch East Indies.

The details and years of these academic achievements are not avail­able.

As regards his career it appears to be a most chequered one and he has filled no less than 15 different positions in different parts of the world. His main interest in his life appears to have been a study of tropical diseases, particularly in relation to ophthalmology as we see him as leader of three important expedi­tions, one to the South Sea Islands and Sumatra in which Von Provazek accom­panied, to study tropical and infectious diseases and to try the effects of Salvarsan on Framboesia at the request of Prof. Ehrlich; the second to Pago-Pago as an adviser in research work at the request of the U.S.A. government and the third to New Guinea for the study of indigenous epidemic diseases and their prevention.

The urge for tropical medicine and ophthalmology appears to have been planted in him during his assistantship under Prof. Wassermann, in the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, Berlin, and as assistant in the Medical and Ophthalmological Clinic, Heidelburg University. The memories of this period of his life appears in an appreciation of Robert Koch and his work and published in the East Indies Medical Journal.

Among his notable appointments before coming to India were:­

  1. First assistant and Lecturer in Ophthalmology, University of Berlin.
  2. Professor and chief ophthalmologist, Eye Clinic, Goettingen University.
  3. Director, Clinic for Tropical and Eye Diseases, Malang, Dutch East Indies.

After obtaining his release from a prisoner of war camp in Java he came to India in 1948 and took up an appointment as chief of the Ophthalmic department of the Prince of Wales Hospital, Bhopal. In 1952 and 1953 he was associated with the Gulmarg Research Laboratory, Kashmere, and since 1953, he was associated with the Gandhi Eye Hospital, Aligarh where he played a very important part in the development of the pathology department of the institution. He was the first director of the Institute. He held this appointment till the day of his death.

As regards his contribution to the literature in Ophthalmology he has written no less than 54 papers, most of them in German and Dutch in various journals, particularly, pertaining to tropical diseases and eyes. The first of his publications appeared in Von Graefe's Archives fur Ophthalmologie in 1905. His publica­tions cover various subjects like accommodation, general infectious diseases, trachoma, experimental medicine in tuberculosis, various tropical diseases, and ocular physiology in high altitudes. From this, one can judge the vast horizon of his knowledge gathered from all over the world. There is one publication for practically every year of his professional career, except between the years 1914-1919 and 1942 to 1948, the war years. He had a wonderful library of some several thousand books which was totally destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia.

Among his medical-Society activities he was Chairman, Medical Society of East Java, and Chairman of the People's University, Malang and also of the Society of Arts and Science, Malang.

He became a member of the All-India Ophthalmological Society and was as regular in attendance as his failing health would permit. He was always alert and gave a valuable contribution to discussion. He was modest about his knowledge„ and what little he spoke, he spoke well and to the point.

He spoke fluently German, French, English, Dutch and Malayan. His urge for tropical conditions brought him to the Orients. His mobile career in the not too well-known south-east Asia, could not put a mark of distinction on his career but when one looks at the contributions he has made to literature in ophthalmology and tropical medicine one feels that he had the markings of one who would have distinguished himself had his lot been cast in the more scientifically advanced parts of the world. He came to India as a mysterious lone figure, reserved, unknown, without a friend. Even then in India, at so advanced an age he became the director of a progressing eye institution at Aligarh. He has left no relation behind who can provide the details of his multicoloured life.


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