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CVM Blindness Researcher Retires,
Work Will Go On

Dr. Neil C. Olson, dean of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine (left) and Dr. John Dodam, chairman of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at the MU CVM, discuss Dr. Kristina Narfström’s contributions to the College during a ceremony to mark her retirement Jan, 25, 2010, at the Adams Conference Center.

Dr. Kristina Narfström, who identified a genetic link between a disease that cause blindness in cats and one affecting humans, retired recently from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. Narfström returned to her native Sweden, to be closer to her family. However, Dr. Neil C. Olson, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, announced that she has been awarded the title professor emeritus and will continue her professional relationship with the College.

Narfström served as the Ruth M. Kraeuchi Missouri Endowed Professor at MU since 2001. She was a joint professor of ophthalmology at the Mason Eye Institute and a joint professor of biological engineering at the College of Engineering, both at the University of Missouri. She also held a position as adjunct professor with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University.

She earned a Bachelor of Science from the Royal Veterinary College in Stockholm, Sweden and went on to earn a DVM there in 1973. She was awarded a PhD from the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Linköping, Sweden, in 1985.

In 1992, Narfström accepted an appointment as a full professor of veterinary medicine at Uppsala, Sweden. At Uppsala, she also served as chairman of the Department of Medicine and Surgery, Small and Large Animals, from October 1990 to January of 1996, and as vice dean of the veterinary medicine faculty from July 1992 to January 1996.

She became a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists in 1992. The Japanese College of Veterinary and Comparative Ophthalmologists awarded her earned honorary diplomate status.

Narfström’s research at her MU laboratory involved hereditary retinal blinding diseases in animals that have counterparts in humans. About one in 3,500 people are affected with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a disease of the retina’s visual cells that eventually leads to blindness. Narfstrom identified a genetic link between cats and humans for two different forms of RP. Narfström also researched treatment strategies, such as retinal microchip implantation, stem cell therapy and gene augmentation therapy for hereditary retinal diseases.

A retirement ceremony was held for Narfström Jan. 25, 2010 in the Adams Conference Center of the Veterinary Medicine Building.

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Last Update: February 24, 2012