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Ophthalmology Department Names Two to Endowed Positions
Tomorrow’s ophthalmologic breakthroughs will be made by today’s young medical professionals, said Judianne Kellaway, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and visual science and assistant dean for admissions at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
That’s why it’s crucial to lay the foundation for tomorrow’s medical bedrock today, she said.
“It’s important that we look at education like a pebble in the pond – it sends a ripple throughout,” she said. “We have a responsibility to help young doc-tors learn to help their patients.”
Thanks to research and efforts from Kellaway and colleague Stephen Mills, Ph.D., also an associate professor of ophthalmology and visual science, this commitment to generations of patients could yield bountiful results. This is partly why both have been named to endowed professorships. Recently, Kellaway was named the first holder of the Stephen A. Lasher III Professorship in Ophthalmology. Mills was appointed to the John P. McGovern, M.D. Distinguished Professorship in Ophthalmology.
Understanding the Light-to-Sight Process
Mills said he will use the resources from the professorship to investigate specific circuits in the retina to learn how information flows from light stimulation to produce visual sensation. Learning how light, or information, is processed through the eye could redefine what we know about sight.
“The award could help that happen,” Mills said. “It will help further that research by providing a steady source of funding for those special needs not met by other grants.”
Mills’ work involves the identification and characterization of the numerous individual circuits in the retina.
“These channels control pupil diameter, eye movements, coordinate vision and balance,” he said. “Yet they’re poorly understood, even at the early levels.”
Mills said recent breakthroughs could change that.
“We have recently found new methods of analyzing these circuits,” he said. “I anticipate that the work on which we are embarking will contribute significantly to the under-standing of unknown retinal circuits, and how deficits in their function may contribute to specific visual deficits caused by disease or injury.”
He said the distinguished professorship is one of the greatest honors of his career.
“I am very pleased. On both the personal and professional level, the award of this endowment indicates a level of sup-port and appreciation from my colleagues that my work is respected and appreciated,” he said. “Further, the attachment of this endowment to my title signals a level of identification with the health science center beyond a job title and beyond tenure, that I have a particular and prized role in my department and school. I am honored by the recognition.”
Mills earned his Ph.D. from the University of Montana in 1980 and has won numerous teaching and research recognitions.
Medical Education Needs Research Funding
Kellaway said she will use endowment resources to seed research projects for future doctors. Education is critical to both patient care and medical research, she said. Without education, new ideas are virtually impossible to foster.
“I’m looking forward to developing ideas,” she said. “Research, certainly, has many possibilities. But I also feel that there is a real need in medical education.”
Kellaway began her career in education after obtaining a M.Ed. from the University of Houston. She then graduated from the UT Medical School at Houston and completed a year in internal medicine at the Robert Woods Johnson Cooper Hospital in Camden, N.J.
She returned to the UT Medical School at Houston to complete her ophthalmology residency and received sub-specialty training in diseases and surgery of the retina and vitreous.
Kellaway has created and directs a fourth-year elective, “Essentials of Medicine,” which provides students an opportunity to re-evaluate and connect with their chosen vocation. In addition to her clinical and teaching obligations at the medical school, she has served on the board of the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science and lectures to high school and college groups about common eye disorders and eye safety. She also instructs astronauts at the Johnson Space Center.
She serves on the advisory board for the National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine that sends thousands of high school seniors to medical schools around the country. She also is the faculty sponsor of the Health and Human Spirit Student Advisory Committee.
By Andy Summa for Institutional Advancement