Rod Nowakowski, O.D., PhD

Director, Genetic & Advanced Diagnostic Testing
Specialty: Ophthalmic Genetics

Practice Locations:

Physician Bio:

Dr. Nowakowski earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees, both in mathematics, from the University of Miami. He completed a Doctor of Optometry degree and later a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics, both at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Nowakowski retired in 2014 as the Dean of UAB School of Optometry after nearly 40 years of faculty service. He continues to serve as the only Optometrist on the National Eye Institute’s National Ophthalmic Disease Genotyping and Phenotyping Network (eyeGENE) Steering Committee.

He has published numerous scientific articles in the areas of medical genetics and optometry and has given lectures on low vision rehabilitation, electrodiagnosis, clinical laboratory testing, retinal disease, ophthalmic genetics, and physical diagnosis. He is the author and illustrator of the textbook “Primary Low Vision Care” published by Appleton & Lange in 1994.

Dr. Nowakowski is a member of the American Optometric Association, the Alabama Optometric Association, and the American Society of Human Genetics. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. He received the 2014 “Aubrey D. Green Humanitarian Award” from the Lions of Alabama in recognition of making a “significant contribution to society beyond the obligations of occupation or profession.” In 1993 he received the “Charles B. Grider Award” for “outstanding, dedicated, and meritorious services rendered to blind and visually impaired citizens of Alabama,” presented by the Alabama Chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

“Dr. No” has played semi-professionally as a jazz guitarist, is an instrument-rated private pilot, a graduate of the Bill Thomas School of Aerobatics, and an avid artist. Three of his oil paintings were selected by jury for the 2002 Energen Art Competition featuring Alabama artists.

What do you love most about being an eye doctor/surgeon? Helping people

What career would you pursue if you weren’t in medicine? Marine biology

Do you have any pets? Well, sort of. Three feral cats have adopted my wife for food and outside shelter.

How do you like to spend your time away from the office? I enjoy flying a 1946 Piper Cub J3, playing the acoustic guitar, and being an exhibiting artist at a local art gallery.

Doctor of Optometry: University of Alabama Birmingham School of Optometry, Birmingham, AL

Undergraduate: Bachelor of Science (Mathematics), University of Miami, Miami, FL and Bachelor of Science (Physiological Optics) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

PhD: Medical Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

  • American Academy of Optometry Fellow
  • Americn Optometric Association
  • Alabama Optometric Association
  • American Society of Human Genetics
  • American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy
  • International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision
  • American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics
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