Carla J. Siegfried, MD, a noted glaucoma specialist, has been named the inaugural Jacquelyn E. and Allan E. Kolker, MD, Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Siegfried’s research has helped lead to key discoveries about the role of oxygen in the development of cataracts and glaucoma.
The new professorship was created with a gift from Jeffrey T. Fort, a St. Louis businessman and philanthropist, as a tribute to Allan E. Kolker, MD, a glaucoma specialist and an emeritus professor of clinical ophthalmology, and his wife, Jacquelyn.
“It is fitting that Jeffrey Fort has chosen to endow this professorship to support glaucoma research and patient care while also honoring the Kolkers,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Mr. Fort’s generosity will bring benefit to generations of people, and I am grateful for his gift in honor of the Kolkers. Allan Kolker has made tremendous contributions to Washington University and to the understanding and treatment of glaucoma, and now Carla Siegfried is continuing that important and innovative work.”
The Kolker professorship is designed to support in perpetuity exceptional physician-scientists who share Kolker’s passion for patient care, teaching and research.
“We are very pleased to have this new professorship honoring the Kolkers,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Dr. Kolker graduated from Washington University School of Medicine, practiced here, taught our students and has been a devoted supporter of our mission, so I think it is fitting that a professorship is in place to help honor his contributions, as well as to continue to advance them by supporting the work of Dr. Siegfried.”
Said Todd P. Margolis, MD, PhD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences: “Our department has a long history of advancing the understanding of vision loss from glaucoma and improving the standard of care for patients. Carla Siegfried is another in a long line of the outstanding physician-scientists at Washington University — including Allan Kolker — who have helped preserve vision and improve quality of life for people who have glaucoma.”
During her career, Siegfried has published more than 50 scientific papers and given more than 100 presentations around the world about basic scientific research into glaucoma and clinical management of the disease. Her work has improved the understanding of how oxygen in different parts of the eye influences the development of vision problems, including glaucoma. She has cared for patients with glaucoma at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital for more than 20 years.
Siegfried also has served for several years as the director of residency training and glaucoma fellowship training in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” she said. “At a very young age, I decided I wanted to be a physician, and I can’t imagine a more rewarding career than ophthalmology. As a glaucoma specialist, I treasure long-term relationships with my patients and am confident this professorship will support our research efforts to further our understanding of this potentially vision-threatening disease, ultimately translating into better care for all those in need.”
Siegfried serves as vice chair of the ethics committee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and is a councilor and board member of the American Glaucoma Society. She is a past recipient of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Secretariat Award and Senior Achievement Award, and she serves as a reviewer for several scientific journals.
A St. Louis native, Siegfried earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1989. She completed an internship in internal medicine at The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis and Washington University School of Medicine and her residency in ophthalmology at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary in Chicago. She completed a glaucoma fellowship at Northwestern University before she joined the faculty at the School of Medicine in 1994.
The Kolker professorship was established through a gift from Jeffrey T. Fort, co-owner and co-founder of Motive Creative in Hollywood, Calif., a digital production facility that specializes in theatrical trailers and media campaigns. Fort is principle of Jeffrey T. Fort Investigations, which specializes in forensic work, witness interviews and expert-witness support. Through his work with that company, Fort has been recognized by the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association for excellence in private investigations and is a member of the Missouri Association of Private Investigators.
A St. Louis-area native devoted to public service, Fort also has served as an appointed and elected official in Frontenac, Mo., and is a commissioner for the St. Louis Art Museum, where he served on the building committee that supported a recent $100 million expansion there.
In addition to establishing the Kolker Distinguished Professorship, Fort has made other significant contributions to support the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, including an unrestricted gift to the department, as well as the creation of the Fort Innovation Fund, directed by Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD, the Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, to support research into conditions and diseases of the retina.
Kolker earned his undergraduate degree from Washington University in 1954 and graduated from the School of Medicine in 1957. He completed his internship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and his residency in ophthalmology and a fellowship in glaucoma at Washington University and began teaching at the university in 1963. He co-directed the glaucoma service at Washington University from 1967 to 1996 and was chief of ophthalmology for St. Louis City Hospital from 1969 to 1974.
In 1990, he was the first recipient of the Washington University Eye Alumni Award. He received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the university in 1996 and in 2002 was presented with the Alumni/Faculty Award from the Washington University Medical Campus Alumni Association.
He has published more than 130 scientific papers, is a founding member of the American Glaucoma Society and has served as its president. He is a former director of the American Board of Ophthalmology, and he chaired the National Scientific Advisory Board for Glaucoma.