Explore UAB

by Satina Richardson

Janene Sims, OD, PhD, was honored with the Dean’s Distinguished Faculty award at the UAB School of Optometry’s 2023 convocation and hooding ceremony. The award recognizes exemplary leadership and service to the school and is given when an individual rises to the occasion in an exceptional way. 

“Dr. Sims’ impact at the School and in surrounding communities is immeasurable,” said Dean Kelly Nichols. “She does so much for so many. This award is a show of gratitude for the many ways she makes a difference in the lives of others.”

Sims is a UAB optometry graduate who also earned a PhD in vision science from UAB. Her natural love for giving translated into a career as an optometric educator.

She wears many hats at the School. Sims is the primary care residency director, national optometric student association advisor, precepts in the primary care clinic, and course director for the professional communication and introduction to clinic courses. Her role as the director of Community Eye Care (CEC), is the role that most closely mirrors her childhood experience watching her father give away produce he grew to those in need.

CEC’s purpose is to help people in need have access to eye and vision care. CEC hosts vision screenings in the surrounding area and provides comprehensive eye exams when possible. Multiple times each year, the group visits the black belt on weekends—this area is known to be one of the poorest areas in the state and one of the poorest regions in the nation.

Annually, Dr. Sims and her team organize Gift of Sight, the UAB School of Optometry’s largest giving event, providing free glasses and comprehensive eye exams to hundreds of uninsured and underinsured people. 

She has led CEC since 2018 and this year CEC celebrates its 50th anniversary. Philanthropic endeavors have continued to thrive and expand with her guidance.

In 2022, Sims was named the Alabama Optometric Association’s Educator of the Year. UAB awarded the Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award to Sims in 2021. This award recognizes one of its faculty who has rendered outstanding service to UAB’s community.