Seeking the Light

The Lives of Phillips and Ruth Lee Thygeson, Pioneers in the Prevention of Blindness


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About the Book

Phillips and Ruth Lee Thygeson were pioneers in medical research on external diseases of the human eye. Together, this husband-and-wife team shared a mutual story of extraordinary accomplishment including, among other things, the discovery of the cause of trachoma, a potentially blinding disease that affects millions of people worldwide. This comprehensive biography tells the story of their personal lives and careers. Beginning with their family backgrounds, the story continues through their meeting on the campus of Stanford University, their years of practicing “frontier medicine” in rural Colorado (where they built a log cabin with their own hands), their world travels in search of a cure for trachoma, and their considerable roles in establishing the Francis I. Proctor Foundation for Research in Ophthalmology. The story of this couple is one of a lifelong collaboration in medicine, a 70-year love affair, and an unending quest to conquer preventable blindness around the world.

About the Author(s)

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Beret E. Strong lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Bibliographic Details

Beret E. Strong

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 263
Bibliographic Info: 35 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3673-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5217-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword (by G. Richard O’Connor, M.D.)      1
Introduction      3

1. A Minnesota Childhood      7
2. A San Francisco Childhood      18
3. A Death in the Family      28
4. Genteel Poverty and a Pandemic      33
5. Meeting at Stanford      36
6. Courtship, a Wedding, and Victorian Values      43
7. Married and in Medical School      47
8. Frontier Medicine in Colorado      53
9. Building a Real Log Cabin      63
10. To Egypt in Search of Trachoma      72
11. Learning from a Nobel Laureate in Tunisia      78
12. Research Idyll in Iowa City      90
13. Fort Apache and the Great Experiment      101
14. The New York Chapter: Two Kinds of Politics      110
15. World War II in the Army Air Corps      132
16. California and an Experiment in Private Practice      149
17. The Francis I. Proctor Foundation for Research in Ophthalmology      153
18. Father and Son: From San Quentin to Steroids      158
19. Mother and Daughter: World Federalist and Equestrienne      166
20. The Glory Days of Academic Medicine      170
21. World Health Organization and World Class Editing      179
22. International Fellows and Fellowship      193
23. Lake Tahoe and the Alta California Eye Research Foundation      199
24. Ripened Souls Tend Their Orchard      203
25. The End of the Journey      210

Chapter Notes      225
Bibliography      243
Index      249