Inventors are inspirational. Patricia Bath is an inventor, ophthalmologist, writer, educator, and humanitarian. She has broken ground for women and African Americans and is known for inventing the Laserphaco Probe.
Patricia Bath was born on November 4, 1943 in Harlem, New York. Bath experienced racism, sexism, and poverty, however her parents encouraged her academically. Bath loved math and science in school and excelled. She attended high school for two and a half years before receiving her diploma. While there, she applied for and won a National Science Foundation Scholarship. She did a research project at Yeshiva University and Harlem Hospital Center and decided to focus on medicine. In 1964, she received a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Manhattan’s Hunter College. Bath then moved to Washington, D.C. and attended Howard University College of Medicine. In 1968, she received her doctorate. While there, she was president of the Student National Medical Association and received fellowships from the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health. She interned at Harlem Hospital Center and served as a fellow at Columbia University. Poverty and travel helped her to realize eye care was an issue in racial minority groups and poor populations. She spread her findings and pioneered “community ophthalmology” worldwide. She became the first African American to serve her residency in ophthalmology at New York University from 1970 to 1973.
After her schooling, she briefly became an assistant professor at Jules Stein Eye Institute and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. She then became the first woman on the faculty at the Eye Institute. In 1978, she co-founded and became president of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. In 1983, she became the first woman head of residency in her field at Charles R. Drew. Ten years later she retired from UCLA of which she had been the first woman elected to their honorary staff. She, also, served as a professor at Howard University’s School of Medicine and at St. Georges University. She was a co-founder of King-Drew Medical Center ophthalmology training program. She has lectured and has authored over 100 papers.
While working, she received four U.S. patents. The Laserphaco , a medical device that improves the use of lasers to remove cataracts and insert a new lens, was patented in 1988. This made her the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. Three of her patents are related to the Laserphaco Probe. In 2000, she received a patent for removing cataracts with ultrasound technology.
Patricia Bath and her work have restored vision to many people. She has been honored by Hunter College and Howard University by being placed on Hunter College’s “hall of fame” and being declared a “Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine”. Be inspired! Have a bright day!