You won't find the University's Department of Ophthamology on campus. To find it, try the Presbyterian Medical Center. The Department of Ophthamology was founded in 1874, making it the second oldest department in the country. But years later, when Chairman Harold Scheie decided that the University needed an eye institute, he negotiated with Presbyterian Medical Center to set up the Scheie Eye Institute on 39th and Market Street. In January 1991, Stuart Fine was appointed Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthamology and Director of the Scheie Eye Institute. Prior to his University appointment, Fine worked at Johns Hopkins University for 18 years. Fine said that he enjoys his new job and he described the University as a "great institution." "I especially like having the Med School on the same campus as the rest of the University," said Fine. "I walk through campus and I don't only see doctors and nurses." Fine said that he doesn't mind that the institute is located off campus, noting that its location is not much further from the center of campus than other places on campus. But he is looking forward to next year when the Ophthamology Department will occupy a floor in Penn Tower. Opthamology doctors at the University see patients, teach Medical School students, train residents and fellows and do laboratory and clinical research. They also fit patients for glasses and contacts and do eye examinations. "We have state-of-the-art equipment including high-tech photography, lasers and ultrasound," Fine said. Fine said he has three main goals for the future, starting with the construction of a new facility for clinical work and research. Fine said he also hopes to begin an aging eye center which would provide "comprehensive eye care for those older people with impaired vision." The center would also provide social services for the elderly. According to Fine, the main focus for the next five years will be in molecular ophthamology. The institute will work to apply molecular biology principles to inherited retinal diseases. It may be possible to find the genes which cause these diseases and then replace them via gene splicing and recombinant DNA. "We are right in the process of recruiting for a new center," he said. "Our goal is to maintain what we have and to expand to the Penn campus." The Scheie Eye Institute recently received a $50,000 grant from Research to Prevent Blindness. Each year, the New York-based organization awards grants to 64 medical schools across the U.S. The grant will be used to investigate possible causes and treatment of diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related masscular degeneration. Fine is the study chairman for two nationwide programs which receive funding from the National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Since 1978, the mascular photocoagulation study has evaluated laser treatment in patients at 16 clinical centers across the country. "The laser has been shown to be very helpful in preventing vision loss," said Fine. The other multicentered program which Fine directs is called the Collaborative Occular Melanoma Study. This is the seventh year of a 15-year study to compare two treatments of melanoma. One method involves enucleation -- the removal of the eye -- to prevent the spread of cancer and the other process utilizes radiation treatment.Comments powered by Disqus
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