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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NEI’s Datiles Retires

Datiles family smiles with Sieving and Bishop in front of happy retirement banner

Dr. Manuel Datiles (fourth from l) with (from l) his sister Therese Datiles, daughter Jeanne Michelle Datiles, wife Jacqueline Datiles, NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving and Dr. Rachel Bishop, chief of the NEI consult services section

Photo: NEI

Senior investigator and medical officer Dr. Manuel “Manny” Datiles III of NEI retired in September. Institute staff recently gathered to celebrate his career and wish him well in his next phase of life. 

“It is not what you have that counts; it is what you do with what you have that counts!” said Datiles. 

He first came to NEI in 1979 as a research fellow in the Laboratory of Vision Research after his ophthalmology training. In the lab, he worked with the late Dr. Jin Kinoshita to demonstrate that aldose reductase inhibitor (ARI) drugs could prevent cataracts in animal models. ARIs are now used to prevent cataracts in diabetic dogs. He also co-discovered a novel lens protein in guinea pigs, the zeta-crystallin, with NEI protein chemist Dr. Sam Zigler. 

He left for eye surgical training at Johns Hopkins Hospital and returned to NEI to become the primary cornea and lens clinical investigator at the institute. In his nearly 40-year career at NEI, he worked to find the causes and find possible cures for blinding cataracts. 

As NEI’s anterior segment surgeon and later as part of the institute’s consult services section, he established cataract and corneal surgery at NEI and performed hundreds of eye surgeries under various NIH protocols.  

In collaboration with NASA physicist Rafat Ansari, Datiles co-developed a special clinical device based on a quasi-elastic light-scattering technique and used it to show that oxidation-caused loss of a lens protein, alpha-crystallin, a molecular chaperone, leads to the formation of human age-related cataracts. This finding will help hasten the development of non-surgical anti-cataract drug treatment. 

Datiles also helped care for hundreds of NCI and NHLBI cancer patients who received stem cell transplants. He led a clinical trial of blood serum eye drops for patients who developed severe dry eye as a consequence of therapy.

Datiles published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and received awards from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University, NEI, NIH, HHS and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. 

Datiles plans to continue working at NEI as a special volunteer and NIH IRB member, teach at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he is an adjunct associate professor, and dedicate more time to church, family, music and the arts. 

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