UAB - School of Optometry - News


Faculty members from the University of Alabama at BirminghamSchool of Optometry have received Pilot Award Grants from the Vision Science Research Center (VSRC), to support new project ideas that could have great potential to advance understanding of ocular disease.

Dr. Narayana Sthanam is retiring from the UAB School of Optometry following 33 years of service. For his longtime commitment to the school, his UABSO family says thank you.

He joined UAB as a junior research associate in Dr. Charles E. Bugg’s lab in 1985 and was appointed as a research assistant professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular genetics in 1990 after receiving an Alabama American Heart Association grant for two years to study Factor D that same year. Dr. Sthanam was appointed Assistant professor in UABSO’s Department of Optometry in 1993 after receiving his first NIH R29 grant to study Factor D. In 1998 he was promoted to associate professor and became a full professor in the school of optometry in 2008.

What is your hometown?

Gallion, Alabama, which is in rural Marengo County, the “suburb” of Demopolis, Alabama.

When did you graduate from UAB School of Optometry?
May 18, 2009 (a date I’ll never forget)

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment outside of the field of Optometry?
Completing the Mercedes Half Marathon (13.1 miles of “fun”)

Dr. Kim Duong recently began treating UAB Eye Care’s first Orthokeratology patient in our new Myopia Control Clinic. The patient’s mother learned about the treatment’s availability at UAB and drives from Auburn for appointments. The goal is to increase the number UAB Eye Care patients needing the treatment in part through referrals from pediatricians and other optometrists. Duong said that many parents don’t think young children can manage contact lenses. After one visit, this patient already takes the lenses in and out with ease.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama approved the appointment of Dr. Leo Semes as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Optometry and Vision Science.

“Dr. Semes is one of the most beloved individuals that UABSO has known. I can think of no greater honor to recognize all he’s done in the field as an educator, researcher, mentor and colleague,” said Dean Kelly Nichols.

The UAB SVOSH trip team — including 11 students, three doctors and two School of Optometry clinical staff — provided comprehensive eye exams to 500 Panamanian people in four days. The group also gave out more than 1,200 pairs of eyeglasses and made almost 80 referrals for a variety of ocular disease conditions.

Hannah Greenfield, left, and School of Optometry Dean Nichols at graduation.

Hannah Greenfield, a 2018 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, has been named the first recipient of the American Optometric Student Association’s student of the year award. The inaugural award is given to a student who has shown leadership skills when serving their profession, patients and community.

Sam Pierce headshot.

What is your hometown?
Opp, Alabama

When did you graduate from UAB School of Optometry?

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment outside of the field of Optometry?
I was the first member of my family to get a college degree, and I was also the first one in my family to live most of my life outside the county where I was born.

Sam Pierce, Andrew Pucker, Hannah Greenfield, Mark Swanson

At the upcoming American Optometric Association conference, to be held June 20-24, in Denver, the UABSO family has a lot to be proud of, as Dr. Sam Pierce (’89) will be sworn in as AOA president, Dr. Mark Swanson (’85) will be given the AOA Educator of the Year award, faculty member Dr. Andrew Pucker will receive the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry Rising Star Award and Dr. Hannah Greenfield (’18) will be recognized as the first American Optometric Student Association Student of the Year.  

2018 School of Optometry Graduates with Dean.

UABSO celebrated the class of 2018 on Mother’s Day weekend. The young men and women who received the doctor of optometry degree brought the number of optometrists UABSO has graduated to 1,600.

Marina Gorbatyuk, PhD

A researcher at the UAB School of Optometry has been awarded a $1.25 million R01 grant from the National Eye Institute to study the regulation of protein synthesis in photoreceptors of mice with inherited retinal degeneration.

This research, led by Marina Gorbatyuk, PhD, associate professor of vision science, will not only lead to a better understanding of vision loss in humans, but will also promote the development of new strategies for stopping retinal degeneration.

Kelly Nichols and Jason Nichols headshots.

Kelly Nichols, O.D., MPH, Ph.D., professor and dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, and Jason Nichols, O.D., MPH, Ph.D., professor and assistant vice president for Industry Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have both been internationally recognized in two articles published in the peer-reviewed journal The Ocular Surface for their contributions as authors on multiple publications in the study of dry eye disease research.

Andrew Pucker

A UAB School of Optometry faculty member recently received national recognition for his work in optometric education.

Andrew Pucker, OD, PhD, assistant professor at the School of Optometry, is the 2018 recipient of the Rising Star Award, given by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, or ASCO.

Kim Duong with student patients.

Kim Duong, OD, MS, is no stranger to community service. The clinical assistant professor at the UAB School of Optometry has worked with children with Type 1 diabetes, provided vision screenings at volunteer events, and works with young girls in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, where she moved in July 2017 to join the School of Optometry faculty.

Third-floor renovations of the Henry Peters Building began in December.

Third-floor renovations are underway at the UAB School of Optometry’s Henry Peters Building.

The updates, which are part of an overall renovation to the building, began in December and aim to bring a greater focus to the School of Optometry student experience.

Janene Sims, OD, PhD

As the new director of Community Eye Care (CEC), Janene Sims, OD, PhD, is excited about past growth of the UAB School of Optometry’s community outreach arm.

CEC, which provides comprehensive eye care and vision screenings for underinsured residents at locations throughout the Birmingham metro area, increased its presence at Western Health Center in Midfield, Alabama, from three days a week to four in 2017. And at the annual Gift of Sight event in December, free eye care and glasses were provided to 260 patients.

Now, Sims is looking forward to what is to come in 2018. Her work with CEC began when she was a student at the School of Optometry and continued when she joined the School as a part-time faculty member in 1997. Now, Sims is an associate professor at the School of Optometry, supervisor of its Residency in Family Practice Optometry and also serves as an advisor for the UAB chapter of the National Optometric Student Association.

A student with the UAB School of Optometry examines a patient during the 2017 Gift of Sight event. Altogether, 260 patients received free eye care over four days.

The UAB School of Optometry and the Jefferson County Department of Health partnered for the fourth consecutive year to bring free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to low-income and underinsured Birmingham residents.

Altogether, 260 patients were seen during the Gift of Sight event, which was held Nov. 29 - Dec. 2 at the Western Health Center in Midfield, Alabama, and at UAB Eye Care, the School of Optometry’s clinical operation. Some patients will return for follow-up appointments for retina, glaucoma and specialty contact lenses, says Janene Sims, O.D., associate professor at the School of Optometry.

Jonathan Davis and Haley Hixon

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation named Jonathan Davis and Haley Hixon, both fourth-year students at the UAB School of Optometry, 2017 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients.

The Foundation annually selects students from each North American college or school of optometry based on submission by each institution. Davis and Hixon are among 44 top-performing optometry students in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada who will receive awards totaling nearly $200,000.

Paul Brown

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation has named Paul Brown, a third-year student at the UAB School of Optometry, a recipient of the 2017 Johnson & Johnson Vision J. Pat Cummings Scholarship.

The Foundation awards the scholarship annually to a second- or third-year optometry student at each North American school or college of optometry who best demonstrates the ideal eye care standards of practice, achievement in both academic performance and extra-curricular activities, and participation with other professional pursuits such as involvement with patients through internships, community service and volunteer activities.

Brown received a $1,000 scholarship and a personalized plaque as part of the award, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and named after a leader in optometry who died in a 2009 plane crash.

Shannon Kirchmer

After third-year optometry student Shannon Kirchmer achieved her longime goal of running her first marathon — the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama this past February — she realized she was just two minutes shy of qualifying for the 2019 Boston Marathon.

“I knew I could do it,” she says.

With her new goal of competing in the world’s oldest annual marathon, she sought the help of a coach through a Birmingham running group to help her with a training plan.

On Nov. 4, she ran a personal record of 3:20:25 (a 7:39 mile pace) in the CNO Indianapolis Monumental Marathon — qualifying her for the Boston Marathon.