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Dr. Robert B. Barlow Jr. Dies at 70

December 24, 2009

New York: Dr. Robert B. Barlow Jr. “Bob” 70, of Jamesville, NY, and Woods Hole, MA, passed away December 24, 2009, after a battle with leukemia. Bob was born in Trenton, NJ, and lived in Freehold, NJ, where he met his wife, of 48 years, Patricia. He graduated from the Peddie School in New Jersey, received his bachelor’s from Bowdoin College and his doctorate from Rockefeller University in New York City.

After Rockefeller, Bob became a scientist, researcher and professor at Syracuse University for 28 years until the late 1990s, when he joined the faculty at Upstate Medical University. There, he was the driving force that established the Center for Vision Research, a group now that numbers 50 people and is the largest clinically focused research group at Upstate Medical. His leadership was critical in establishing the SUNY Upstate Foundation’s endowment to support vision research and the SUNY Eye Institute, a collaboration of all four SUNY medical schools performing vision research.

Bob had been the recipient of many awards, including the President’s Award for Excellence and Leadership in Research at Upstate Medical University in 2002, Senior Scientist Award-Research to Prevent Blindness in 2005, State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2007, and the ARVO Gold Fellow in 2009. He also held leadership positions on several boards, including being a vice president of the board of trustees of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, on the board of trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and a director for the Doreen Grace Brain Center in Mashpee, Massachusetts. He had been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, University of Cambridge in England, and the University of Tsukuba in Japan and had a long list of invited presentations as a lecturer.

He had been featured in many scientific journals and programs, including Nature Magazine, Discovery Channel and the BBC. His work has also been published in more than 103 scientific papers, and there are five more that will be published posthumously. And last, due to his thoughtful preparation, his important work on macular degeneration will be continued under the guidance of his colleagues at Upstate Medical.

Bob had many passions outside of the lab, most of which involved the water. He loved to swim, scuba dive and fish on his boat, the “Jimbo.” During the summers at Woods Hole, he made a ritual of swimming every day, usually off Nobska Beach, and even swam across Vineyard Sound and Buzzard’s Bay. Back in Syracuse, when not at home or the lab, he could be found in a pool swimming masters or heading to a Syracuse University basketball game. He was also an active member of the Pompey Lions Club.

Bob is survived by his wife, Patricia; his three children, Kimberly (Braith) Kelly of Connecticut, Jill (Mark) Bloom of Maryland and Jack (Alison) Barlow of Massachusetts; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; his brother, James Barlow; his sister Margaret Jane Lawson; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. Bob’s family has decided to hold a private service for immediate family members to remember his life. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Bob’s name to either the Vision Research Fund, 311, Upstate Medical University Foundation, 750 East Adams Street, CAB 326, Syracuse, NY 13210 (315) 464-4416 or The Marine Biological Laboratories, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543 (508) 289-4751.