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Scientific Biographies

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Patricia Bath, a research scientist, inventor and educator, is most famous for her work in ophthalmology and laser science. Patricia is widely known for her advocacy on blindness prevention, treatment, and cures. Her accomplishments include the invention of a new device and technique for cataract surgery known as Laserphaco. She makes claim to many of the "first woman scientist" accomplishents, including appointment as the first woman chair of ophthalmology in the United States, at Drew-UCLA in 1983. Not only was she the first woman to hold such a high position, but she was also the first African-American female to receive a medical patent for her invention of the Laserphaco.

Lasting Impact

- Patricia Era Bath. (2014). The website. Retrieved 10:15, Oct 08, 2014, from

Watch the video to see Patricia Bath's role model and motivation for going into science:

Patricia Bath

Timeline 1942 - Born: Harlem, NY1958 - Attended National Science Foundation cancer research workshop at 16 yrs. of age1960 - Earned Mademoiselle magazine's Merit Award in 19601973 - First African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology1975 - First female faculty member in the Dept. of Ophthalmology at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute1976 - Co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness1981 - Began work on her most famous invention; Laserphaco Probe (1986)1983 - Helped create, and chaired, the Ophthalmology Residency Training program at UCLA-Drew1988 - Became the first African-American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose1993 - Retired from UCLA Medical Center, became an honorary member of its \ medical staff1993 - Named a "Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine."

While known widely for her invention of the Laserphaco Probe, Bath's has left a lasting impact by proposing a new discipline known as "community ophthamology."The idea behind community ophthamology is to combine aspects of public health, community medicine, and clinical ophthalmology to offer primary care to underserved populations. An outreach run by volunteers to screen for threatening eye conditions has saved the sight of thousands whose problems would otherwise have gone undiagnosed and untreated.

Idea behind Bath's invention Laserphaco for cataracts

Road BlockDue to being a double minority in the field of science, a woman AND African American, Patricia Bath had to work extra hard to earn respect from the scientific community. Growing up in Harlem, Bath was "quick to observe that at the eye clinic in Harlem half the patients were blind or visually impaired. At the eye clinic at Columbia, by contrast, there were very few obviously blind patients. This observation led her to conduct a retrospective epidemiological study, which documented that blindness among blacks was double that among whites." Bath was a pioneer in fighting for underserved populations which included minorties such as herself. However, with perserverance Bath was able to achieve many "firsts" for women and African American women in the field of science.


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