MAURICE F. RABB, JR. Biography - Famous Scientists


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Maurice F. Rabb, Jr. (August 7, 1932-June 6, 2005) was an African-American             
ophthalmologist. He is widely known for his pioneering work in cornea and             
retinal vascular diseases.                                                             
Maurice Farnandis Rabb was born on August 7, 1932 in Shelbyville, Kentucky. He         
was the only child of Maurice F. Rabb, Sr., a physician and a civil rights             
activist, and Jewel Miller Rabb, a math teacher and treasurer of the local NAACP       
branch, both graduates of Fisk University. He was interested in traveling and         
taking pictures in his early ages. He and another member of the boy scout             
represented their region at the Boy Scout World Jamboree in Paris. At 14, Rabb         
was thinking about a career in photography which led him to the field of               
After attending Indiana University in Bloomington for two years, Rabb                 
transferred to the University of Louisville in 1951 when this institution was         
desegregated. He graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine       
in 1958. He attended Kings County Hospital for postgraduate training. He studied       
ophthalmology at New York University and became the first African-American             
resident of the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary.                         
When he completed his residency, Rabb started a private practice in downtown           
Chicago which focused on retinal disease.                                             
Rabb became the medical director of the Illinois Eye Bank and Research                 
Laboratory at the University of Illinois. He was also the director of the             
Fluorescein Angiography Laboratory at the Michael Reese Hospital. In 1977, he         
was a full professor of clinical ophthalmology.                                       
He served as the chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Mercy Hospital,       
president of the Mercy Hospital Medical Staff, and medical director of Prevent         
Blindness America. He was married to Madeline Murphy Rabb for 39 years. They           
have two sons, Maurice III (1967) and Christopher (1970).                             
Rabb founded the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at the University of Illinois       
(UIC Eye Center) with a colleague, after obtaining a grant from the National           
Institutes of Health. The center was the only one in the country to diagnose and       
treat sickle cell eye disease. Rabb also led a research that helped prevent           
retinal detachment and blindness in sickle cell patients.                             
Rabb was recognized for his efforts to expand opportunities for doctors from           
underrepresented communities through the National Medical Association. Annually,       
the NMA awards the Rabb Venable Ophthalmology Award for Outstanding Research to       
students and residents for the best research presentations. Dr. Rabb also was a       
member of the Roman Barnes Society of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.           
Dr. Rabb, a non-smoker, died on June 6, 2005 after a long battle with non-small       
cell lung cancer for which he was diagnosed in the winter of 2003.