PATRICIA ERA BATH
Ophthalmologist, inventor, humanitarian, and academic Dr. Patricia Era Bath born on November 4, 1942 invented an improved device for laser cataract surgery. She invented the Laserphaco Probe, which she patented in 1986. She also became the first woman member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, first woman to lead a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology, and first woman elected to the honorary staff of the UCLA Medical Center.
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., in 1968, caused Bath to dedicate herself to achieving one of the dreams of King, namely the empowerment of people through the Poor People's Campaign. She organized and led Howard University medical students in providing volunteer health care services to the Poor People's Campaign in Resurrection City in the summer of 1968.
Bath coined the term "Laser phaco" for the process, short for laser Photo-ablative Cataract surgery, and developed the laserphaco probe, a medical device that improves on the use of lasers to remove cataracts, and "for ablating and removing cataract lenses". Bath first had the idea for this type of device in 1981, but did not apply for a patent until several years later. The device was completed in 1986 after Bath conducted research on lasers in Berlin and patented in 1988, making her the first African-American woman to receive a patent for a medical purpose.
Bath was the first Black person to serve as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University. She was also the first African-American woman to serve on staff as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center. Bath was the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. A holder of five patents, she also founded the non-profit American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in Washington, D.C. With great honor we salute #PatriciaBath who died on May 30, 2019.
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