Link to Dr. Demer's complete CV >
Joseph L. Demer, MD, PhD, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but as the eldest of eight children was raised in Tucson, where his father was professor at the University of Arizona (UA). While an Electrical Engineering undergraduate at UA, Joseph worked as a television broadcast engineer, and was a traveling member of the UA debate team and coach of a state champion high school debate team. Joseph received his MD and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins in 1983, where his dissertation research in the Wilmer Institute involved the role of olivocerebellar pathways in plasticity of reflexive eye movements. While Ophthalmology resident at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, Dr. Demer was appointed to the research faculty and received his first R01 grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) for study of human vestibulo-ocular reflexes. With the blessing of mentor Gunter K. von Noorden, MD, Dr. Demer continued this research during fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology at Texas Children’s Hospital. Also during fellowship, Dr. Demer published the first functional imaging study of the effect of amblyopia on the human brain using positron emission tomography, and published on clinical optokinetic asymmetry in esotropia.
Dr. Demer was recruited in 1988 to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where he rose to the rank of Chief of the Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Division in the Stein Eye Institute and Department of Ophthalmology, David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Demer now holds the Arthur L. Rosenbaum Professorship of Pediatric Ophthalmology, and is also Professor of Neurology, Director of the Ocular Motility Clinical Laboratory, Codirector of the Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Fellowship program, and committee chair of the EyeSTAR Training Program (Specialty Training and Advanced Research in Ophthalmology and Visual Science), a residency-PhD track. Dr. Demer is also a member of the Neuroscience and Bioengineering Interdepartmental Programs. Dr. Demer teaches graduate and medical students in several courses, including Neurology, Ophthalmology,
Neuroscience, and Bioengineering. Dr. Demer has served as editor or editorial board member for the American Journal of Ophthalmology, the Japanese Journal of Ophthalmology, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science,
the Journal of AAPOS, and Strabismus. He is also a reviewer for many other scientific and clinical publications, and has chaired numerous study sections for the National Institutes of Health and a section program committee for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). For 38 years, Dr. Demer has investigated regulation of binocular alignment, vestibulo-ocular reflexes, visual tracking, orbital anatomy, and visual brain function. In 2003, ARVO awarded Dr. Demer its highest honor, the Friedenwald Award, for his groundbreaking research on the extraocular muscles and orbital connective tissues that culminated in the Active Pulley Hypothesis. In 2004, Dr. Demer also received an Achievement Award from the Alcon Research Institute for this work. He is an inaugural Gold Fellow of ARVO.
Dr. Demer’s research has been supported by NEI since 1985, and by Research to Prevent Blindness since 1988. He has published over 260 peer-reviewed scientific papers, 41 book chapters, and six editorials. His medical and surgical practice includes in pediatric and adult strabismus, nystagmus, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the orbit and cranial nerves, and children’s eye diseases. Dr. Demer performs consultative clinical imaging using advanced MRI methods that are undergoing continuing refinement in his laboratory. In addition to personally operating MRI scanners, Dr. Demer is an active instrument-rated airplane pilot with nearly 2000 flight hours.