David J. Apple had a vision to improve IOL technology; cataract surgical techniques and patient care throughout the world.
I feel proud to say I belong to the Apple Korps, as David liked to call the group of his research fellows. In the early 1990s I worked with him in Charleston at the Medical University of South Carolina. He became my scientific father: a mentor who has shown me how to do research in this area. Even David’s poor health did not stop him pursuing his vision, alter his motivation or diminish his wisdom; indeed perhaps these characteristics delayed and defeated his illness. I owe him so much and ophthalmology has benefited from his numerous contributions.
At the time of his death, David’s laboratory was in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. He died in August 2011 and that autumn I met with Ann Apple and sought her permission to perpetuate David’s work at a more international level and within a university, by re-locating it to Heidelberg. She kindly agreed. In the spring of 2012 we shipped it to Germany. That summer the crates were unboxed in the University Eye Department. The move from Charleston is accomplished. Now, in 2015, Heidelberg has a thriving international laboratory for research on intraocular devices: continuing and extending the research that David initiated.
The Apple Lab is the counterpart to the clinical research undertaken by the Eye Department’s IVCRC (International Vision Correction Research Centre) which was previously known as the Heidelberg IOL and Refractive Surgery Research Group that we established in 1999. Today the IVCRC is certified to DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 and is a member of the Steinbeis Research Association as well as part of the European Research Network.
In addition to doing research we have a curatorial role to do here as we hold all of Professor Apple’s archives, historical laboratory-samples and his correspondence, including the many letters he exchanged with Sir Harold Ridley.
Heidelberg provides a most appropriate location for the laboratory. David admired the city and its university. He visited here frequently. Equal to his love of medical science David revered the history of medicine. The Medical Faculty here is the oldest in Germany: over 600 years of education and research in medicine have produced a tradition of deeply founded responsibility to tackle the huge challenges facing 21st century medicine. The faculty has prepared itself for these challenges in many ways: through the establishment of links with the Cluster of Excellence in and around the city and its university in several internationally recognised research institutions,
- German Cancer Research Center
- Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University
- Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center
- Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research
- The European Molecular Biology Laboratory
At the Apple Lab we have established links to these centres of excellence, promoting high standards in ophthalmic education and research here in Heidelberg. We look forward to bringing together ophthalmic device manufacturers and ophthalmic surgeons from all over the world into this network. It is a great honour to carry on David’s work and build upon his legacy of research. Our laboratory keeps David’s name and his spirit alive.
Thank you for your interest in the Apple Lab. I hope you enjoy the website and I say, on behalf of all my colleagues, we look forward to working with you.
Head of the Laboratory, Eye Department Chairman and Director of IVCRC