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David Whikehart, PhD
David Whikehart, PhD, professor emeritus

AUGUST 21, 1939 - AUGUST 5, 2023

David R. Whikehart, Ph.D., UAB School of Optometry professor emeritus, has passed. A noted researcher in the biochemistry and molecular biology of the eye, Whikehart is among the few to have isolated and characterized stem cells that appear in the lining of the corneal endothelium. Whikehart retired in 2009 after 30-plus years of service and was appointed emeritus professor in April 2010.

Whikehart received his doctorate in biochemistry from West Virginia University in 1969. Soon after, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in biological chemistry at Harvard University and a fellowship in neurobiology at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He joined the UAB School of Optometry in 1978 as an assistant tenured professor, rising to full professor in the Department of Vision Sciences.

During his tenure at UAB optometry, Whikehart served as a curriculum committee member, helping to plan and improve optometric training and the training of vision scientists. He taught medical and dental students and conducted pioneering research on diabetes and aging of the eye. He published over 29 papers and wrote two editions of a leading textbook—Biochemistry of the Eye. Among his awards is being honored with UAB's President's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2007.

Whikehart mentored generations of students and vision scientists. Marlene, his wife of 54 years, said her husband was very committed to his teaching career and wanted his students to be well informed in their academic endeavors.  

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In honor of Dr. Whikhart, gifts can be made to the UAB School of Optometry Fund for Excellence. This fund continues the legacy of excellence in optometry and vision science that Dr. Whikehart exemplified throughout his career while also allowing countless students to put aside financial concerns to focus on their educational and career goals. GIVE NOW