The world's lens research community lost an important contributor recently when, ARVO member Ahuva Dovrat passed away ahead of her time in Haifa, Israel, following an admirable battle with cancer.

Ahuva (Gutterman) was born in Haifa, Israel on February 12th, 1947.
Ahuva fulfilled her mandatory army service, a duty bestowed upon every Israeli youngster, during the tough days of the Six Day War. She served her missions in the Golan Heights and Northern Israel with great devotion and a sense of responsibility that was rare for her young age.

Following her passion to science, she began biology studies at the prestigious Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her roommate, a young blind girl, inspired her to pursue a career in vision research. She completed her BSc (1970), MSc (1972), and PhD (1979) at the Physiology Department at Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Upon her graduation, she moved back to her hometown of Haifa as a faculty member at the Department of Biology at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, and began devoting her energy to vision research. She collaborated with David Gershon, PhD, in the research of rat lens superoxide dismutase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, and aldolase, and characterized the fate of these enzymes during aging.

Ahuva embarked on her international lens research career upon arriving at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, at the University of California Los Angeles, School of Medicine in 1986. She accepted a faculty position of an assistant professor there and collaborated with Joe Horowitz, PhD, focusing on glutathione reductase activity in the human lens epithelium. She collaborated with Jake Sivak, PhD, to develop a novel approach to monitoring lens function during organ culture.

It was during this time that the lens scanning system that would be the mainstay of Ahuva's research was first conceived and improved. In 1989, she patented the Scanning Laser Monitor -a method and an apparatus for the in vitro evaluation of focal length and focal length changes in lenses from human and from animal eyes. The scanning laser monitor became available for commercial use in 2002 and emerged as an important research tool for the investigation of human and animal lenses.

In 1989, Ahuva decided to return to Haifa, Israel, where she accepted a position as a senior research fellow at the Bruce Rappaport School of Medicine, at the Technion Institute of Technology. She brought her skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm from the United States and established a distinguished and unique independent lens research lab in Haifa without any help or funding from the Technion authorities and against several objections and obstacles in the late 80s. It was apparent that her deep love for her homeland and the strong belief that her children should be raised in Israel kept her from giving up and returning to the more convenient research environment she enjoyed in Los Angeles.

She focused her research on the aging of crystalline lenses in an effort to prevent cataract formation and cataract progression. She described the damage caused by UV-A irradiation to lens crystallines. She mentored research fellows, medical students, graduate students, and PhD candidates, and authored dozens of research papers and book chapters.

She was full of life energy, curiosity and the enthusiasm to learn more and to explore further. Her pivotal work and her scientific impact shall always be remembered. Her honorable legacy shall be followed and continued by her students.

*Information provided by Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD