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Irene E. Loewenfeld, PhD (1921-2009)

Thompson, H Stanley MD

Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology: December 2009 - Volume 29 - Issue 4 - p 378
doi: 10.1097/WNO.0b013e3181c7323b

Iowa City, Iowa

Irene E. Loewenfeld, PhD died suddenly of coronary artery disease on October 9, 2009 in New York, NY. She was 88 years old. She had a long, happy, and productive academic career thinking about how and why the pupils change their size.

She was born into a middle class German Jewish family in 1921. Her grandfather, Theodor Loewenfeld, was a law professor at the University of Munich, and her father was a well-established lawyer practicing in Munich. Nazi policies led to the family's escape from Germany to Switzerland in 1934 and their eventual emigration to New York in 1939.

Dr. Loewenfeld was 19 years old when she took a technician's job in Professor Otto Löwenstein's pupillographic laboratory at New York University. She was soon making important contributions to Lowenstein's pupillary projects. This work led to a lifelong fascination with the mechanisms of pupillary movements (documented in Journal of Neuro-ophthalmol 2006;26(2):139-148).

One of her great gifts to the world was the 25 years of her life that she devoted to her magnum opus: The Pupil, Physiology and Clinical Applications, Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, 1993. A massive text in two volumes with 15,000 references and countless tables, it covers pupil matters as never before and perhaps never again (see book review in Am J Ophthalmol 1993;116:117-119).



H. Stanley Thompson, MD

Iowa City, Iowa

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.