May 29, 2019

Dr. James Puklin, retired faculty member, dies at 78

James Puklin, M.D., a retired Wayne State University School of Medicine professor of Ophthalmology, died May 22, in Washington, D.C., of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 78.

A retina specialist for the School of Medicine and the Kresge Eye Institute, Dr. Puklin served as chair of WSU's Human Investigation Committee, reporting directly to the university president. The committee's six Institutional Review Boards reviewed, approved and supervises 2,500 protocols for local studies and national clinical trials in the biomedical and social sciences.

He also was selected to serve on the Medicare Evidence Development Coverage Advisory Committee for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he advised on medical procedures that may provide effective and appropriate patient outcomes and should be covered by Medicare as reasonable and necessary. He used his three terms of the advisory committee to educate physicians-in-training about the decision-making process in health care reform.

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1963, he received his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School and then trained as an ophthalmologist at Northwestern University. He treated patients, taught hundreds of medical students and residents, and conducted research at Yale University from 1976 to 1985, at Northwestern University from 1985 to 1989 and at Wayne State University from 1989 to 2014. He also trained numerous residents in ophthalmology and fellows in vitreoretinal surgery.

His work in diabetic retinopathy, ocular melanoma, eye disease related to HIV and macular degeneration was supported by the National Institutes of Health and other leading institutes. He published numerous articles and six book chapters on retinal eye disease and treatment.

In 2015, the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology honored Dr. Puklin one of 22 outstanding clinical researchers and named him a Gold Fellow. Fellows serve as role models and mentors for individuals studying vision and ophthalmology research.

An avid runner, Dr. Puklin entered more than 80 marathons, including the Boston Marathon 32 times.

He is survived by his wife, Gail; sister, Marty Fitzhugh; first wife, Diane; their daughters, Eileen and Barbara; and four grandchildren.

Visitation has already taken place.

The family asks that donations to the Alzheimer’s Foundation be considered. For more information, contact the DeVol Funeral Home, 2222 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20007, 202-333-6680.