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American Black History Month: Dr. Patricia Bath (1942 - ) Inventor, Doctor & Educator

on Tue, 02/23/2016 - 23:57

Born in Harlem, New York, Dr. Patricia Bath was encouraged by her parents and her teachers to excel in her academic studies at a very young age. Growing up, she realized she wanted to make a difference in the world after learning about the humanitarian effort of Dr. Albert Schweitzer in servicing a leper village in the Congo. Throughout her life, Dr. Bath has battled sexism and racism, but instead of allowing the bias to define her, she simply succeeded in spite of it.  

Among her many accomplishments, Patricia Bath became the first African–American woman to receive a patent in 1988 for her medical invention, the Laserphaco Probe, used for cataract surgery. Her idea for the medical device was initially years ahead of the technology available, but after several years of research and testing, she was able to apply for the patent.  She now holds four patents in the United States. For more information, search Engineering Village databases US Patents & EP Patents, 1988-2000: ((BATH, Patricia E.) WN ALL) in Expert Search.

Dr. Patricia Bath also holds several other 'firsts' for African American women and women of all races:

  • First African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology (1973)
  • First African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent for her invention (1988) 
  • First female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute (1975)
  • First woman to hold the prestigious position, Chair of the Ophthalmology Residency Training program at UCLA (1983)

Dr. Bath also established that "eyesight is a basic human right,"when she co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Dr. Bath was inducted into the International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame in 2001.

To read more about Dr. Bath, please click here.

Remember to bookmark and  check the Engineering Village blog all week for daily posts celebrating  (U.S.) National Engineers Week.