Since its founding in 1874, the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania has been dedicated to providing exceptional patient care, groundbreaking research, and distinguished teaching. This spring, we celebrated the 145th Anniversary of the Department of Ophthalmology. Below, we highlight several recent accomplishments of the faculty and reflect on the Department’s decades of notable achievements.
I hope you enjoy reading through the timeline of events that led our Department to the present day. I also hope you are encouraged to see how our current faculty, staff, and alumni are continuing this tradition of excellence today. For example, below, you can read about research from Artur Cideciyan, PhD, and Samuel Jacobson, MD, PhD, that led to visual improvement in patients with a rare form of congenital blindness (published in Nature Medicine). You can also learn how a novel therapy for neurotrophic keratitis was used to treat a patient for the very first time in the United States here at Scheie. We also recognize the achievements of several faculty members and alumni, including Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, (co-recipient of the $1M Sanford Lorraine Cross Award) and Jennifer Thorne, MD, PhD (honored Alumni Lecturer). Finally, we highlight how more and more Penn medical students are electing to take a gap year to pursue research projects in ophthalmology to prepare for ophthalmology residencies.
We also delve deeper into our continued ties with the community in this issue. Below, you will read about the devotion of Tomas Aleman, MD, and César Briceño, MD, to Puentes de Salud, a non-profit healthcare clinic that treats the underserved Latino population of Philadelphia. We also feature Councilman Allan Domb, a member of the Philadelphia City Council, who serves as a strong advocate for vision research. Finally, you can read about Penn Museum’s “touch tours” for visually impaired individuals and the inspiring story of 102-year-old Bernice Paul, who continues to paint despite suffering from macular degeneration.
I would like to express my utmost gratitude and appreciation for the colleagues, trainees, patients, and friends who have provided this Department with 145 years of excellence. We are committed to sustaining this momentum into the future. Planning is currently underway to celebrate our 150th Anniversary.
Wishing you all a wonderful summer.
Joan O’Brien, MD