Julia A. Haller Gottsch ’76
Region II Candidate
Julia Haller Gottsch ’76 quotes Katharine Graham, the legendary publisher of the Washington Post, “To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?” Haller Gottsch says, “That was what Princeton prepared me for: finding rewarding life work, and truly appreciating it.”
Haller Gottsch is a world-renowned retina surgeon. She has been a professor and lecturer all over the globe. She was recently named Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of the Wills Eye Institute. She is also Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. A member of 14 professional medical societies, Haller Gottsch has received over a dozen grants to fund her work. She has published over 240 papers and 22 book chapters.
“A year ago I was given the chance of a lifetime: leadership of the Wills Eye Institute, the nation’s oldest eye hospital and largest eye practice. ” She notes “At Wills our vocation is very much aligned with that articulated in Princeton’s motto: we advance the fight against blindness ‘in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.’”
Haller Gottsch graduated among the first wave of women at Princeton with the class of ’76. “I fell in love with Princeton at first sight, on a beautiful day in the spring of my junior year in high school,” she says. “That love has never faltered.” After Princeton, she went to Harvard Medical School, still cheering for the Tigers, and on to Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins for her residency and retina fellowship. Her parents were physicians at Johns Hopkins as well. After her residency, she became Wilmer’s first female Chief Resident in 1986. She joined the faculty as Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins in 1987, became the inaugural Katharine Graham Professor of Ophthalmology in 2002 and the inaugural Robert Bond Welch, M.D. Professor of Ophthalmology in 2006.
Haller Gottsch has a particular research interest in the repair of complicated retinal detachments, macular surgery, retinal venous occlusive disease, cystoid macular edema, posterior segment inflammatory diseases, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. She is a pioneer in treating macular degeneration and retinal surgeries.
Her career has many dimensions, including, teaching research, administration and more. “Being a physician continues to be a special privilege. We are allowed into our patients’ lives at very vulnerable times – a uniquely personal access that carries with it great responsibility and great spiritual reward.” She has examined earthquake victims in Greece, taken care of world leaders, performed surgery on television, and even developed a friendship with Tom Clancy, whose character Cathy Ryan has a marked resemblance to her.
Haller Gottsch has been honored many times for her work and is a member of many different professional societies. Honors include the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Honor Award, the Kreissig Award from Euretina, the President’s Award from Women in Ophthalmology, and the Secretariat Award from AAO and others. She is on the editorial boards of Retina, Retinal Physician, Ophthalmology Retina Times, to name a few, and is a member of numerous Scientific Advisory Boards, such as Optherion, Acuity Pharmaceuticals, Neurotech, and more.
Through the years, Haller Gottsch has maintained her love of and commitment to Princeton, and has been an active volunteer on many fronts. In addition to being an Annual Giving solicitor for her class, she is president of the Princeton Alumni Association of Maryland, a member of the Alumni Council as well as a past member of its Executive Committee, and an Alumni Schools Committee interviewer. Haller Gottsch says, “Princeton is a place very much at my core: its values inform who I am and its atmosphere and philosophy are attributes I have tried to keep with me.”