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J. Willard Marriott, Jr. Professorship in Ophthalmology

School of Medicine

Established in 2020 by The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation

J.W. MARRIOTT JR. is Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International, Inc., the largest lodging company in the world. Mr. Marriott’s leadership spans more than 60 years, as he guided what was once a family-run root beer stand and restaurant to a global hospitality company that is today comprised of more than 7,300 properties across 30 brands in 134 countries and territories. In September 2016, Marriott finalized its largest acquisition ever, acquiring Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Mr. Marriott served 40 years as Marriott’s Chief Executive Officer, before stepping down on March 31, 2012.

Mr. Marriott’s passion for the hospitality industry began at an early age. He spent his high school and college years working in a variety of positions in the family’s Hot Shoppes restaurant chain. He became a full-time associate in 1956, and soon afterward began managing the first Marriott hotel. He became President of the company in 1964 and Chief Executive Officer in 1972. He was elected Chairman of the Board in 1985.

Throughout his career, Mr. Marriott has been known industry-wide for his hands-on management style, which is built on his parents’ chief core value of putting people first. The Marriott corporate culture emphasizes the value that associates bring to the organization. Today, there are more than 730,000 people who wear a Marriott name badge worldwide.

Mr. Marriott is also known as a lodging innovator – shifting the company’s business model in the late 1970s from hotel ownership to property management and franchising. His strategic decision allowed the company to accelerate its growth and broaden its leadership position. That transformation culminated in the company’s split in 1993 into Marriott International – a hotel management and franchising company headed by Mr. Marriott – and Host Marriott International, a hotel ownership company chaired by his brother, Richard Marriott.

In January 2007, Marriott on the Move, one of the first regular corporate CEO blogs was launched. Mr. Marriott’s award-winning blog extends further his global reach and influence that complements his well-known visits to hundreds of hotels annually.

Mr. Marriott serves on the board of trustees of The J. Willard & Alice S. Marriott Foundation. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the World Travel & Tourism Council, as well as has served on the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society and as a director of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation. Previously, Mr. Marriott was chairman of the President’s Export Council, as well as served on the board of General Motors and the Mayo Clinic.

Mr. Marriott grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, where he attended St. Albans School. At the University of Utah he earned a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance, and went on to serve as an officer in the United States Navy. Mr. Marriott is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is married to the former Donna Garff. They are the parents of four children and have 15 grandchildren as well as 25 great-grandchildren.

Held by Peter L. Gehlbach

The inaugural J.W. Marriott Jr., Professor of Ophthalmology, PETER L. GEHLBACH, M.D., PH.D., presents a distinguished career as a dedicated clinician-scientist and teacher at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Dr. Gehlbach was recruited by National search as Wilmer’s inaugural Maumenee Scholar twenty one years ago. Beginning at the level of instructor, and rising through the ranks, he has been promoted to full professor. Dr. Gehlbach now holds his primary appointment in the Wilmer Eye Institute, with a secondary appointment in the Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering.

During his very productive career at the Wilmer Eye Institute and Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Gehlbach has developed an exemplary track record of interdisciplinary scholarship, representing the fulfillment of the “One University” mission. He has authored a high impact body of publications, secured continuous N.I.H. and other grant funding, demonstrated a strong commitment to teaching excellence, and has become internationally recognized for a superlative record of clinical care—formally recognized by Johns Hopkins Medicine for both excellence and professionalism. His dedication to service in the academic and non-academic communities is broad and enduring. It is exemplified by consecutive and bipartisan appointments by three Maryland governors, to serve as a trustee—advocating on behalf of the blind of Maryland—for nine years.

Dr. Gehlbach’s innovative research accomplishments are remarkable for foundational work in understanding ischemia-reperfusion injury in the retina, retinal gene therapy and retinal antiangiogenic molecules in therapy. Over the last decade—with the generous support of Mr. Marriott and the many friends of Wilmer—Dr. Gehlbach, as a member of an interdisciplinary team of talented Johns Hopkins engineers—has succeeded in making transformative contributions to the emerging field of robotics, as applied to retinal microsurgery.

Prior to his time at Wilmer, Dr. Gehlbach attended public schools in the granite mining town of Barre, Vermont. He was first broadly recognized as the Harmon Bove Scholar-Athlete of the state. He earned his bachelor and medical degrees from the University of Vermont, where he stood out as having excellent surgical skills. These were further developed by general surgery residency training in Chicago after which he enrolled in formal Ph.D. training in cellular and integrative physiology under Dr. Richard Purple at the University of Minnesota. His thesis work elucidated a role for iron in ischemia and reperfusion injury of the retina and was among the early works describing basic mechanisms of oxidative injury in the eye. In further advancing his now keen interest in the retina, he pursued ophthalmology residency training at Washington University in St. Louis, and then retina fellowship training at the Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health and Science University—where he was honored as both a Heed, and a Knapp Fellow. He has since earned his business of medicine certificate from the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University.

The inaugural director of the former Wilmer Gene Therapy Vector Center, he has served as the director of the Wilmer Echography Center as well as the Retina Fellowship Training Program at the Wilmer Eye Institute. He is most proud of his many students and mentees—so many of whom are enjoying productive careers and life success. He extends a special thank you to his late Ph.D. mentor Dr. Richard Purple for empowering him to “think outside of the box” and to have the courage to live with the consequences. Dr. Gehlbach would also like to thank and honor his late mother Mary Anne Ciresoli Granai for the life lessons learned from her indomitable spirit, acts of kindness, unwavering perseverance, and grace in hard times. Dr. Gehlbach’s own life joys are found in his three daughters—Kyle, Kyndal and Korbyn; in catching up with his brother (David) and father (Louis) in Vermont; sharing time with old friends and perhaps in doing a little fishing.

Finally Dr. Gehlbach expresses profound gratitude to Mr. Marriott and his family for their trust, confidence, faith and exceeding generosity over the years.