PATRICIA BATH

Laser Cataract Surgery | 1986

American ophthalmologist, inventor, humanitarian, academic

After completing her residency at NYU, Bath began a Corneal fellowship program at Columbia University, which focused on corneal transplantation and keratoprosthesis surgery (1973 to 1974). While a fellow, she was recruited by both the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute and Charles R. Drew University to co-found an ophthalmology residency program at Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital. She then began her career in Los Angeles, becoming the first woman ophthalmologist on the faculty at Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. She was appointed assistant chief of the King-Drew-UCLA Ophthalmology Residency Program in 1974, and was appointed chief in 1983.[14]

At both institutions, she rose to the rank of associate professor. At UCLA, she founded the Ophthalmic Assistant Training Program (OATP) in 1978. The graduates of the OATP are key personnel to provide screening, health education, and support for blindness prevention strategies.[4][7] [15]While at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, she established the Keratoprosthesis Program to provide advanced surgical treatment for blind patients. The program continues today as the KPRO and thousands of patients have had their eyesight restored with this innovative technology. Based on her research and achievements with keratoprosthesis, Bath was chosen to lead the first national keratoprosthesis study in 1983.[16]

In 1983, Bath was appointed Chair of the KING-DREW-UCLA Ophthalmology Residency Program, becoming the first woman in the US to head an ophthalmology residency program.[5][4]

While at UCLA, Dr. Bath had wanted to pursue research, though being denied the grants and resources by the National Institutes of Health and the National Eye Institute. It was then she had decided to look further for the best laboratories in the world, to support her plans for innovation in the world of ophthalmology. [14]In 1986, Bath elected to take a sabbatical from clinical and administrative responsibilities and concentrate on research. She resigned her position as chair of ophthalmology and followed her research pursuits as visiting professor at centers of excellence in France, England and Germany. In France, she served as visiting professor at the Rothschilde Eye Institute of Paris with Director, Daniele Aron-Rosa. In England, she served as visiting professor with Professor Emmony at the Loughborough Institute of Technology. In Germany, she served as visiting professor at the University of Free Berlin and the laser medical center.

In 1993, she retired from UCLA, which subsequently elected her the first woman on its honorary staff.[4][5]