The Marshall M. Parks Medal

2017 Silver Medalist

Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS

Recognized for his remarkable career and lasting contributions to ophthalmology, epidemiology and public health worldwide through his discovery of the link between vitamin A deficiency and childhood blindness and mortality.

Alfred Sommer Headshot


Dr. Sommer is an inaugural Johns Hopkins University Gilman Scholar, a Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Service Professor, and Dean Emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is a Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Professor of Ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He served as Dean of the Bloomberg School from 1990-2005.

Dr. Sommer received his MD from Harvard Medical School (1967) and his Master of Health Science in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (1973). His research interests include outcomes assessment; blindness prevention strategies; child survival; and the growing interface between medicine and public health.

Dr. Sommer has published 6 books and over 300 scientific articles and has chaired scientific and advisory committees of the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, World Economic Forum, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

He has received numerous awards, including the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Research; the Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research; The Laureate Award of the American Academy of Ophthalmology; the Helmut Horten Medical Research Award; the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievements in Health; the Prince Mahidol Award (from His Majesty the King of Thailand); the Dan David Award (Tel Aviv University); the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize; the Joseph E. Smadel Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America; the Danone International Prize for Nutrition; the Lucien Howe Medal of the American Ophthalmological Society; the Thomas Francis Medal of the University of Michigan; and the Duke Elder International Gold Medal for Contributions to Ophthalmology.

Dr. Sommer has delivered over 70 named lectureships, including the Jackson Memorial Lecture (American Academy of Ophthalmology), Duke Elder Oration (Royal College of Ophthalmologists), De Schweinitz Lecture (College of Physicians, Philadelphia), Dohlman Professor Lecture (Harvard Medical School), Doyne Lecture (Oxford Ophthalmologic Congress), and the Kimura Lecture (University of California, San Francisco), among others.

Dr. Sommer is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine), Past President of the Association of Schools of Public Health, past Chair of the Board of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, and holds the 19th Chair of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis.