August 2005
Volume 46, Issue 8
Free
Lecture  |   August 2005
Introducing Simon John, the 2004 Recipient of the Cogan Award
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science August 2005, Vol.46, 2649. doi:10.1167/iovs.04-1069
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      Richard S. Smith; Introducing Simon John, the 2004 Recipient of the Cogan Award. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2005;46(8):2649. doi: 10.1167/iovs.04-1069.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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It is a double pleasure for me to have the privilege of introducing the Cogan Award lecturer this year, since I knew Dr. Cogan for many years. He has been described as an influential teacher who believed that the essence of scientific investigation was originality, curiosity, and perseverance (www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/2260.html). These characteristics are equally applicable to this year’s recipient of the Cogan Award, Dr. Simon John. When Simon came to The Jackson Laboratory to be interviewed for a position in 1995, he was filled with ideas about using the mouse in glaucoma research and described a method he was developing for measuring intraocular pressure. I must say that I had some serious doubts at the time that the ideas he proposed would actually work. Clearly, I greatly underestimated both his skills and his perseverance. Now, when Simon suggests development of a new technique or presents a radical new hypothesis, our laboratory no longer asks if this is possible—we begin to think how his goals can be accomplished. 
The explosion of knowledge in the past 10 years about mice as appropriate targets for studies of ocular diseases fully supports the confidence that Simon John had from the very beginning. His abilities were recognized by the greater scientific community when, in 1998, he became the youngest Assistant Investigator ever selected for support by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). His PhD supervisor, Dr. Charles Scriver of McGill University, summarizes it well: “For ten years I was on the Scientific Review Board for Howard Hughes Medical Institute. I am familiar with their standards and how they pick people. Simon has met the gaze of HHMI and returned it. They picked him, and his remarkable career continues.” 
Simon John was born in Wales and did his undergraduate work at the University College of Cardiff, South Wales, where he received joint highest honors in Zoology and Genetics. After receiving his PhD in Biology from McGill in 1992, he served as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Oliver Smithies at the University of North Carolina. In addition to his Jackson Laboratory position as Staff Scientist, he serves as a Research Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine and is a cooperating Professor at the University of Maine. In 2002, he was promoted to Associate Investigator by HHMI. 
Since coming to The Jackson Laboratory, his laboratory studies have been centered on mouse models of glaucoma. He has successfully developed new methods of clinical examination in mice, has discovered strain-related variation of intraocular pressure that is likely a quantitative trait, has established that the pigment metabolic pathway is critically important in both developmental and pigmentary glaucoma, and has identified a number of genes important in glaucoma. In the past few years, he has become interested in genes that act as risk factors in glaucoma, including those that affect axonal and somal survival under stress. The details of some of these studies will be presented here today. 
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