girkin leadershipChristopher A. Girkin, M.D., MSPH, FACS
EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Professor and Chair
I am honored to serve as the chair of this dynamic department that is committed to high-quality patient care, innovative research, and comprehensive education.

We are undergoing an exciting period of progress that will enhance our strengths in those three core areas with the recruitment of 12 new faculty in 2012 and 2013. During our growth, we are focused on retaining and recruiting top faculty members, developing new models of care delivery, and expanding our research programs. These endeavors all support our vision — to become a renowned leader in the treatment and cure of blinding diseases.

The department's rapid progress is fueled by support from our generous philanthropic partners, such as the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama. This support is critical to our goal of advancing vision health and research in Alabama. The start of The Campaign for UAB: Give Something, Change Everything, provides unique opportunities for matched giving, which amplify the impact of individual donations and allows the department to continue to excel in research, education, and patient care.

Through the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital Clinic, located within one of the busiest eye hospitals in the country, our physicians provide exceptional primary and consultative care to patients referred from throughout the region. Our faculty members represent every subspecialty of ophthalmology, providing comprehensive care for our patients. Recently, we’ve increased our number of clinic locations and hired new physicians for enhanced patient convenience.

In addition to our physician faculty members, the department includes a team of highly productive clinical and basic research scientists. We strive to translate new research into clinical practice. To do so we promote a close, collaborative relationship between our physicians, physician-scientists and research faculty.

I have come to appreciate the highly collaborative spirit of the biomedical research community at UAB. This culture supports the development of multidisciplinary teams within and between departments and schools, and greatly enhances opportunities for current and incoming research faculty. We believe a collaborative approach will allow our research teams to have a greater impact than simply the sum of their parts.

One example of a multidisciplinary research group is the team of ocular biomechanical engineers we recruited to develop the Ocular Biomechanics and Biotransport Program. This group has brought UAB to the forefront of this exciting, under-explored field, which we believe has potential for significant breakthrough in the treatment of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, myopia, and other eye disorders.

As part of the UAB School of Medicine, education is woven through everything we do. We provide robust training for the next generation of ophthalmologists in our residency and fellowship programs, which are the only ones of their kind in the state.

As the population ages, eye health needs will continue to increase and become more important in sustaining overall health. This underscores the necessity of our current progress, through which we have established a foundation to achieve our vision. Ultimately, our success will move us closer to eliminating the suffering caused by blinding disease, improve access to care, and train the next generation of physicians and scientists.