John M. Christiansen, MD
Dr. Christiansen/Jack was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he attended public schools, graduating as Valedictorian, and Commander of the Army ROTC unit at Highland High School. He went “back east” for college, and graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with Honors, in Biological Science.
Jack continued his education at Harvard Medical School, where he developed his lifelong interest in ophthalmology under the mentorship of David G. Cogan, Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. At the time, Harvard’s “new” curriculum encouraged elective coursework; Jack was able to work extensively in the Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology, also under Dr. Cogan’s tutelage. His project involved metabolic cataract formation, particularly in galactosemia.
Jack returned to Utah to serve as a medical Intern at the University of Utah School of Medicine. There his elective rotations allowed him to concentrate in endocrinology, neurology, and emergency medicine.
Returning to the east for his Residency, Jack spent three years at the well-regarded Wilmer Ophthalmologic Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, with Professor A. E. Maumenee as Chairman. During his Residency, he served a three-month rotation at the Shah Pahlavi Hospital in Shiraz, Iran; he learned a bit of Farsi, to go with German and Spanish as languages in which he is conversant.
Following completion of his Residency, Jack moved to Bethesda, MD where he served in the U.S. Public Health Service as a commissioned officer with the rank of Full Surgeon (Navy Lieutenant Commander.) He worked at the National Eye Institute, headed by Dr. Carl Kupfer, in direct patient care, and doing research investigating Tumor Angiogenesis Factor, now known as Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, important in diabetic retinopathy, as well as other conditions.
His training and public health/military service complete, Jack broke ranks – his fellow residents all went into academic medicine – and moved to Colorado Springs to work at the Colorado Springs Eye Clinic (CSEC), with Dr. Paul Wetzig, a wonderful, visionary mentor, particularly in relation to understanding diabetic retinopathy. (Jack considers himself fortunate to have had such good teachers and mentors throughout his career.) He was at CSEC for five years, before setting up a solo private practice in General Ophthalmology in the old Santa Fe Railroad Station just east of downtown Colorado Springs. For 36 years in that locale, he saw and treated a spectrum of eye conditions, in three generations of patient families. During that time, Jack operated at the Surgery Ltd. Outpatient Surgical Center on Fontanero, served a period as Chairman of Surgery at St. Francis Hospital, and was on staff at both Memorial and Penrose Hospitals. Not ready to retire, in February, 2018, Jack resumed practice at CSEC, in its new home in the Pinnacle Building, where he joins Drs. Steven Dewey, Carl Wetzig and Dale Anderson, to provide ethical, excellent clinical patient care.
Jack’s “extra-curricular” interests and activities include hiking, fly fishing, and reading. He looks forward to sharing his love for and knowledge of military history as a part-time docent at the Colorado Museum of WW II Aviation History. As a member of the Wilderness Medicine Society and of the National Outdoor Leadership Society (NOLS), he participates in their workshops, especially in Montana, whenever he can. Active in the Boy Scouts of America since the age of 8, Jack is a Eagle Scout, mentored his son and many other Troop One scouts to Eagle rank, held many leadership positions in the Pikes Peak Council, and finally earned the prestigious Silver Beaver award, for his many years of volunteer service to Scouting.
Jack is married to Dr. Catharine Beecher. Between them they have five sons and one daughter, all raised in Colorado Springs, but now scattered across the Western U.S. from Texas to Washington state. Two are in education, one in medicine, and three in business.