Emory Eye Center
The Emory University School of Medicine Eye Center has a long tradition of teaching, research, and patient care in ophthalmology that began in the late nineteenth century.
The importance of research has grown along with the burgeoning clinic at the Emory Eye Center. In 2003 the forty-one members of the research staff, including twelve who held the Ph.D.,
Research projects at Emory include studies of melanoma of the eye, retinal pigment transplantation and immunology, drug delivery to the posterior eye, corneal retinal cell evaluation, hereditary cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and gene therapy. Clinical trials are conducted in melanoma, diabetes, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Research projects are conducted in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and Morehouse College School of Medicine. Emory Eye Center also collaborates with Yerkes National Primate Research Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.
The many strides that have been made in eye research and clinical eye care in Georgia can be traced back to a time when the practice of ophthalmology was just beginning in the United States. In 1872 Abner W. Calhoun, the southeast's first specialist in the eye and ear, came fresh from training in Vienna, Austria, and Berlin, Germany, to Atlanta Medical College, which was established by his father, Andrew B. Calhoun, in 1854. (Atlanta Medical College became Emory University School of Medicine in 1915.)
Abner Calhoun served as faculty president from 1900 until 1910. He and industrialist Andrew Carnegie provided funds to construct a medical college building that later became part of Grady Memorial Hospital, still a training ground for Emory residents. As the only scientifically trained ophthalmologist south of Maryland, Calhoun was the specialist of choice for many southerners with serious eye problems before the turn of the century.
In 1940 Clay and Phinizy Jr. (F. Phinizy Calhoun's son) organized an ophthalmic pathology laboratory, one of only a handful of laboratories of its kind in the country. The junior Calhoun went on to serve as department chair from 1946 until 1978. During his tenure he helped open an eye bank, the fifth in the United States, to serve patients in the Southeast who needed cornea transplants.
Emory remains a top eye center in the country, according to Ophthalmology Times, a leading professional journal, and in the annual rankings of U.S. News and World Report magazine.
Henry Bullock, A History of Emory University 1836-1936 (Nashville, Tenn.: Parthenon Press, 1936).
Thomas English, Emory University, 1915-1965: A Semicentennial History (Atlanta: Emory University, 1966).
J. Willis Hurst, The Quest for Excellence: The History of the Department of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997).
Joy H. Bell, Emory Eye Center
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.