Perspective from Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD
June 07, 2019
1 min read

Laserphaco probe inventor Patricia Bath, MD, dies

Perspective from Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD
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Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath, MD, the inventor of the Laserphaco probe and the first black female doctor to patent a medical invention, died from complications from cancer May 30 at the age of 76, according to a Washington Post obituary.

A graduate of Hunter College and Howard University College of Medicine, Bath was the first female ophthalmology faculty member at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“We are saddened to learn of the death of our former colleague, Dr. Patricia Bath,” Bartly Mondino, MD, director of the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute and department chair of ophthalmology in the medical school, said in a press release from UCLA. “Dr. Bath was an influential trailblazer for women and minorities in the field of ophthalmology. She will be missed.”

Bath held five patents and was the co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. The nonprofit organization was developed in 1976 to promote “community ophthalmology” through education, public health outreach and provision of medical services, especially in underserved communities, according to the obituary.

In addition to her position at UCLA, Bath served as an employee of Los Angeles County, a faculty member at what is now Charles R. Drew University Medicine and Science and chief of the ophthalmology division at Martin Luther King Jr. General Hospital/Charles Drew Postgraduate Medical School. She retired in 1993 but continued to lecture around the world.