Born on November 4th, 1942 in Harlem, New York to Rupert and Gladys Bath, Patricia’s path to greatness was piqued when her mother brought her a chemistry set as a young girl. From early on, Mrs. Bath was a hard worker and chose greatness. At the age of 16, she was picked as one of the few students to attend a cancer research workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She impressed the program head so much that he included her findings in a scientific paper presented to the workshop attendees. Due to her efforts, she was awarded the Mademoiselle Magazine’s Merit Award in 1960.
Bath headed to Hunter College after graduating high school in two years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 1964, and went on to graduate with honors from Howard University’s School of Medicine in 1968. After an internship at the Harlem Hospital, Bath began a fellowship in Ophthalmology (the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye) at Columbia University. During her time there, she discovered that African Americans were twice as likely to suffer from blindness and eight times more likely to develop glaucoma than other races. Bath’s research led to a community ophthalmology system, providing increased eye care for those who could not afford treatment. Patricia Bath became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and later moved to California to work as an assistant professor of surgery at Charles R. Drew Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. Upon taking her new position she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.
In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the prevention of blindness and by 1983 Bath helped create the ophthalmology Residency Program at UCLA-Drew. Bath chaired the program of which she also became the first woman in the nation to hold such a position. In 1981 Bath began working on her most well-known invention– the Laserphaco Probe, which she created in 1986. She was able to harness laser technology, creating less painful and more precise treatments of cataracts. She received a patent for the device in 1988, becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. She also holds patents in Japan, Canada and Europe for her Laserphaco Probe. Bath retired in 1993 becoming an honorary member of the UCLA medical staff and was also named “Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine”. Mrs. Bath was a strong advocate for telemedicine, which uses technology to provide medical services to remote areas. Mrs. Bath is a great inspiration and model of excellence. She is a pioneer, a visionary and a titan within her field. Mrs. Patricia Bath, we stand on your shoulders.
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