Patricia Era Bath, MD, the late board-certified ophthalmologist who broke barriers in science and medicine throughout her lifetime, is poised to make history once more. Should an online campaign to honor her legacy prove successful, Dr. Bath could become the first Black woman of 603 inventors inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Nominations can be submitted here.
In 1973, Dr. Bath became the first African-American to complete an ophthalmology residency at New York University. She followed this achievement by becoming the first African-American woman appointed to UCLA Medical Center's surgical staff in 1975 and the first woman to lead a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology.
Along the trail she blazed in medicine, Dr. Bath became the first Black woman to hold a medical patent in the U.S. and would go on to receive four other patents for her inventions, which included the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment. Dr. Bath’s Laserphaco technique is still used in one million of the twenty million cataract surgeries performed every year.
Dr. Bath was the first physician to document the disproportionate rate of blindness among Black patients, and in 1976, co-founded the American Institute for Prevention of Blindness to address racial inequities in eye and vision care.
Dr. Bath passed away on May 30, 2019, at the age of 76. She has been nominated for inclusion in the National Inventors Hall of Fame 11 times before, but has never been inducted.