Although a physicist by training, Robert Flower has been involved principally in ophthalmic research for more than 30 years. After joining the staff of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in 1966, he began a collaborative investigation with Dr. Arnall Patz of Hopkins’ Wilmer Institute on the effects of oxygen on the developing retinal vasculature of the premature infant eye. That collaboration led to a general interest in the role of the choroidal circulation in retinal disease etiology, which eventually became his career pursuit. In addition to providing some of the first sub-cardiac-cycle resolution descriptions of choroidal blood flow, he developed the first clinical method for routine visualization of the human choroidal circulation, ICG fluorescence angiography, now a standard diagnostic procedure.
In 1982 Flower became Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory/ Johns Hopkins Medical School Collaborative Biomedical Program, a position he held for ten years, while continuing to pursue his ophthalmic research interests as time permitted. During that time he also was Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and of Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1990 he held the H. J. Fitzgerald Dunning Professorship for a two-year period, during which he gradually increased his research activities.
In 1995 Flower left the APL/JHU to resume his research activities full-time and joined the faculty of the University Of Maryland Department Of Ophthalmology as Associate Professor. Since then, he has continued to apply ICG angiography to characterization of choroidal blood flow patterns in normal and diseased eyes. His work has led to a new treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in eyes for which conventional laser treatment is not possible—now the subject of a FDA-approved clinical trial. Currently, in addition to his association with the University of Maryland, Flower is Professor of Ophthalmology at the New York University school of Medicine, Director of Biophysical Research at the Retina Research Center of the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital, and Chief Scientist at Novadaq Technologies, Inc.