FRIEDA GABRIELE MARIE JOSEPH DERDEYN, who later became Dr. Frieda Bambas, was nine years old when she and her mother emigrated from Belgium to the United States prior to World War I to join her father, who had left earlier to establish himself in the U.S.
The family settled first in Illinois and then in Oklahoma, where Dr. Bambas graduated from the University of Oklahoma before going on to receive graduate degrees from Middlebury College (MA) and the University of Oklahoma (PhD). According to her nephew, Conrad Derdeyn of Austin, Texas, Dr. Bambas “fit in very well in the university environment. She has always been a very sociable person, full of personality, as well as a dedicated teacher.” During her academic career as a professor of French, Dr. Bambas taught at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma before retiring in 1974.
Following the passing of her husband, Rudolph Bambas, a professor of English, in 1998, she established scholarships at a number of colleges, including the University of Oklahoma, Carnegie Mellon, and Middlebury College. The scope of her philanthropy has created an enormous impact at colleges and institutions across the country, including the Wilmer Eye Institute. Her remarkable journey ended in September 2005, at the age of 100.
In appreciation for the care she received at Wilmer during treatment for macular degeneration in 2002, Dr. Bambas made a provision in her will to establish the Dr. Frieda Derdeyn Bambas Professorship in Ophthalmology.
HENDRIK P.N. SCHOLL, MD, MA, the inaugural Dr. Frieda Derdyn Bambas Professor of Ophthalmology, is considered one of the preeminent retinal dystrophy experts in the world. He came to the Wilmer Eye Institute in 2010 from Bonn, Germany, after an international search. He leads the Retinal Degeneration Section within the Retina Division at the Wilmer Eye Institute and is head of the Visual Neurophysiology Service.
Dr. Scholl attended Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany where he studied both medicine and philosophy. In 1994, he was elected for a scholarship to join the medical program of Brown University. Subsequently, at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen, he pursued his thesis, “Motion thresholds of colored stimuli of different luminance contrasts are increased in ocular hypertension and early primary-open-angle-glaucoma,” and presented to the faculty of philosophy his thesis, “Remembrance and authenticity.” He graduated with the degree of Dr. med. (Medical Doctor) and Magister Artium (Master of Arts) in 1997. He completed his residency at the University Eye Hospital of Tübingen. While there, he established the Laboratory for Cone Type Specific Electroretinography. The lab was connected to the Specialized Clinic for Inherited Retinal Degenerations at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen, led by Eberhart Zrenner. Professor Zrenner is one of the top experts worldwide in this area.
In 2001, Dr. Scholl was awarded a Clinical Research Fellowship by the German Research Foundation and spent this fellowship with Alan Bird at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London. Professor Bird is one of the most renowned experts outside of the U.S. in the field of retinal degenerations.
After his fellowship, Dr. Scholl joined the faculty of the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen. In 2004 he received the prestigious Heisenberg Fellowship awarded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Dr. Scholl is the only clinician scientist in ophthalmology to receive this honor. In 2004, he was recruited to the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Bonn, and joined the faculty as a Privatdozent (equivalent to associate professor). In 2008, he established the department as an international clinical trial center. Clinically, he served as a vitreoretinal surgeon and coordinated the Specialized Clinic for Inherited Retinal and Macular Diseases being a tertiary referral center in Germany. He was head of the Clinical Electrophysiology Unit and the Low Vision Center.
Dr. Scholl’s work in genetically determined panretinal and macular dystrophies and age-related macular degeneration has substantially contributed to the understanding of the pathophysiology of blinding eye diseases. His research contributions represent an extraordinary advancement in the field, and Dr. Scholl is internationally recognized for his innovative and pioneering work. He presents a unique combination, being one of the few retinal dystrophy experts in the world who is also an accomplished surgeon.
Translational research of ophthalmic neurodegenerative disorders has been the focus of Dr. Scholl’s research activities. In a period of only 12 years, Dr. Scholl has published more than 90 peer-reviewed original and review articles. In the most cited journal in the field, Investigative Ophthalmology, Dr. Scholl has published 16 times. He also has published his work outside the eye literature in such journals as Nature, Journal of Immunology, American Journal of Human Genetics, Human Molecular Genetics, and PLoS ONE.
As a result of his seminal works and international acclaim, Dr. Scholl was able to obtain an array of grant awards. He has been a key player in large international, multi-center projects funded by the European Commission. In his first month at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Scholl was awarded the Wynn-Gund Translational Research Acceleration Program Enhanced Research and Clinical Training Award by the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI). That same month, he also received the Macular Degeneration Research Award by the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF).
Dr. Scholl is the recipient of numerous national awards in Germany. In 2008, he received the prestigious European Vision Award, the only clinician-scientist to ever receive this honor.