Patricia E. Batha



an ophthalmologist and laser scientist


Patricia Era Bath born November 4, 1942, Harlem, New York, she is an ophthalmologist credited as the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose.

Patricia Bath's dedication to a life in medicine began in childhood, when she was first heard about Dr. Albert Schweitzer's service to lepers in the Congo. After excelling in her studies in high school and university and earning awards for scientific research as early as age sixteen, Dr. Bath embarked on a career in medicine.
She received her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., interned at Harlem Hospital from 1968 to 1969, and completed a fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University from 1969 to 1970. Following her internship, Dr. Bath completed her training at New York University between 1970 and 1973, where she was the first African American resident in ophthalmology.

Despite university policies extolling equality and condemning discrimination, Professor Bath experienced numerous instances of sexism and racism throughout her tenure at both UCLA and Drew. Determined that her research not be obstructed by the "glass ceilings," she took her research abroad to Europe. Free at last from the toxic constraints of sexism and racism her research was accepted on its merits at the Laser Medical Center of Berlin, West Germany, the Rothschild Eye Institute of Paris, France, and the Loughborough Institute of Technology, England. At those institutions she achieved her "personal best" in research and laser science, the fruits of which are evidenced by her laser patents on eye surgery.

she is an innovative research scientist and advocate for blindness prevention, treatment, and cure. Her accomplishments include the invention of a new device and technique for cataract surgery known as laserphaco, the creation of a new discipline known as "community ophthalmology," and appointment as the first woman chair of ophthalmology in the United States, at Drew-UCLA in 1983.

Her interest, experience, and research on cataracts lead to her invention of a new device and method to remove cataracts—the laserphaco probe. When she first conceived of the device in 1981, her idea was more advanced than the technology available at the time. It took her nearly five years to complete the research and testing needed to make it work and apply for a patent.
Today the device is use worldwide. With the keratoprosthesis device, Dr. Bath was able to recover the sight of several individuals who had been blind for over 30 years.