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A Conversation with Dr. Lockey,

the First Recipient of the Lifetime Contribution to the AAAAI and A/I Specialty Award
Dr. Lockey credits his supportive family with his career success.
Richard F. Lockey, MD, MS, FAAAAI, has devoted his life to the practice of allergy. The son of an allergist, he grew up at a time when the specialty was underappreciated. In the early days of his own career far too many people still died from asthma. Today, he says, “the advances are almost incomprehensible.”
The AAAAI Board of Directors recently named Dr. Lockey the recipient of the inaugural Lifetime Contribution to the AAAAI and A/I Specialty Award. The award was established to recognize individuals who have made outstanding and sustained contributions to the AAAAI, the specialty and the community at large through years of dedicated and exemplary service.
“I am humbled and honored,” Dr. Lockey said during a recent conversation about the award and his esteemed career. “My life has been my family and my work. I’m lucky to have a family that’s understanding of my love for medicine. None of this would have been possible without my family, or the colleagues and friends I’ve worked with over the years. You’re only as good as the people around you.”
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“During my career so much has changed. Back in the 1970s, patients would often die from asthma. We just didn’t have the right medications, and those medications caused severe side effects. Innovations and research have made asthma one of the most treatable chronic conditions. Of course, access to care continues to be an issue, but the advances since I started practicing are almost incomprehensible.”
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Richard F. Lockey, MD, MS, FAAAAI
Following in his father’s footsteps, Dr. Lockey began his medical education in 1961, and through the years has worked and volunteered for a number of organizations including the FDA, NIH, WHO, WAO and is also a past president of the AAAAI. “I served in positions where I thought I could be the most useful in advancing the care of patients,” he said.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Lockey authored or coauthored over 850 scientific, review, webpage articles and book chapters on a variety of A/I topics. In the 1980s, he worked with one of the first HIV clinics, before many services were available. Now, most patients with HIV work with specialists in infectious diseases. “I believe you step forward where you need to,” Dr. Lockey said. “I’ve been involved in everything allergists care for, and even some things they don’t. Some say you should get involved in only one area of research,” he continued, “but I never found that very interesting. I get involved with everything.”
We asked Dr. Lockey to share the advice he’s given to the more than 100 physician specialists he’s trained over the course of his career. “I tell them like it is. The reality of what goes on in the field. And they need to really understand – when you’re a physician people put their faith in you. You should treat your patients the way you treat your family.”
So, what is Dr. Lockey doing now? “The big three – I see patients, I teach, and I do research. Each one of these is equally important, though if a patient needs you that takes priority. That being said, I’m 82 and I’m planning to step down as the Director of the Division. That doesn’t mean I’m retiring though – I’ll still be working, just not at the director level.”
Dr. Lockey will accept his Lifetime Contribution Award during the 2023 Honorary Awards ceremony at the 2023 AAAAI Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Nominations for the 2024 Honorary Awards are now being accepted. You can nominate a colleague on the AAAAI website.