Washington University School of Medicine Oral History Project Washington University School of Medicine Bernard Becker Medical Library
Home | Browse the Interviews | Index of Names | Rights & Permissions | About this Project

Bernard Becker

Interviewer: Marion Hunt Bernard Becker, M.D.
Date: October 19, 1990; November 2, 1990, and unknown date [Fall 1990]
Identifier: OH061
Approximate Length: 30 leaves
Biographical Information: Ophthalmologist, 1920-2013. Professor, Chair Emeritus, Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Washington Univ. School of Medicine. Becker received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1944. After serving as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Becker joined the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University as a fellow and later a resident. In 1953 Becker became professor and head of the Department of Ophthalmology of the Washington University School of Medicine. Becker was an early leader in academic ophthalmology and helped to found the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. He served as founder and first editor of Investigative Ophthalmology, and was an organizer of the Association for Research in Ophthalmology.
Summary: Transcript of 3 interviews with Bernard Becker conducted in the fall of 1990. In the first interview Becker describes his early years and education. He discusses his undergraduate studies at Princeton University and his mentor there, H. S. Taylor; his graduate studies at Harvard Medical School during World War II and his military service as a psychiatrist; and his post-war residency training and research with Jonas Friedenwald at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. In the second interview Becker describes the challenges of balancing clinical work, research, and administration as head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Washington University School of Medicine from 1953 to 1988. Becker discusses the expansion of the Department of Ophthalmology, his research in the causes and control of glaucoma, and his efforts to integrate the university’s affiliated hospitals. In the third interview, Becker describes the changes in academic medicine and research from the 1950s to the 1980s. He discusses some of the efforts leading to the establishment of the National Eye Institute in 1968, and his work to fund and construct a new medical library at Washington University. Following the 3rd interview is Dr. Becker's summary of his career.
Read Transcript

Please note: The Becker Medical Library presents this oral history interview as part of the record of the past. This primary historical resource may reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times and of the interviewee. The Becker Medical Library does not endorse the views expressed in this interview, which may contain materials offensive to some users.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of these oral history transcripts. If you discover an error or would like to offer suggestions, please click here to contact us.
Home | Browse the Interviews | Index of Names | Rights & Permissions | About this Project