To commemorate Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s 50th anniversary, we contacted our alumni spanning five decades and asked them to share with us their personal memories about their experiences at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and their accomplishments since they left. Their collective stories and images capture the essence of the Institute’s evolution.
We invite you to read their reflections which we hope will give you a sense of our rich 50-year history.
Share your memories and photos here
After his ophthalmology residency at the University of Michigan Medical School, Froncie Gutman completed a retinal fellowship at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, 1964-65. In 1965, he joined the ophthalmology faculty at Emory University School of Medicine. In 1967, Dr Gutman was drafted and served as Assistant Chief of Army Ophthalmology at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington D.C. Following his release from the Army Medical Corps, he served as Chairman of the Ophthalmology Department at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 1969 to 1991. Dr. Gutman currently is a member of the Emeritus Staff at the Cleveland Clinic.
Read Dr. Gutman's reflections »
Arriving at BPEI in February 1968, I was able to spend 5 months in the laboratory studying experimental retinal detachment with Robert Machemer prior to beginning my year of clinical retinal fellowship, which ended in June 1969. The training in medical/surgical retinal disease and mentorship with Drs. Norton, Curtin, Gass and Kroll gave me a great basis for starting a Retinal section at the Marquette Medical School (Milwaukee), a privatized spin-off from Marquette University, upon completing my laboratory and clinical fellowship.
Read Dr. Aaberg's reflections »
One of Dr. Norton’s greatest talents was his ability to clearly articulate his extraordinary vision and to inspire those around him to buy in and think outside the box. His uncanny ability to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats was a trademark of his genius. In fact, he invented “good to great” long before Jim Collins and his researchers put a label on it. The “great spirit in the sky” dropped a small but potent acorn on Miami in the late 50s from which sprung a mighty oak whose offspring have played a highly significant role in transforming ophthalmology worldwide.
Read Dr. Shock's reflections »
…I can enthusiastically state that my vitreoretinal fellowship time at the BPEI was the best academic year of my life. The opportunity to learn in the midst of a fabulous (and small) faculty was in retrospect rather unique in terms of what was going on in ophthalmology.
Read Dr. Wilkinson's reflections »
For those fellows currently attempting to become fluent with the exponential expansion of the knowledge base in their sub-specialty, know that this has been the case for many years. As Doug Anderson’s second fellow in glaucoma, circa 1974, the changes to the field were exciting even in those Dark Ages. However, none of the advancements in medicine were more remarkable than the changes to the physical structure of the Institute itself. Imagine arriving for an interview and being shown through a double-wide house trailer which was the clinic! Of course my dismay and concern were instantly put to rest by meeting that day with Doctors Norton, Machemer, Glaser and Anderson.
Read Dr. Gelber's reflections »
My vitreoretinal fellowship was from 1976-1978 and I had the good fortune to work with a wonderful faculty that included Robert Machemer, George Blankenship, John Clarkson, Don Nicholson, Victor Curtin, Don Gass, Mary Lou Lewis, Guy O’Grady and, of course, Dr. Norton. I loved the sense of mission we all felt as we advanced vitreoretinal surgery and learned how to treat the most complex retinal detachments. Harry Flynn and I joined the faculty of Bascom Palmer the same day in 1978. The photograph I included is of Harry and me with fellows Stanley Chang and Gilles DeRoaches after clinic one day talking about patients. I think Harry was more successful at BPEI than I because Harry is still there and I left in 1980.
Read Dr. Abrams' reflections »
In 1980, I was a retina-leaning second year resident at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, and I did a pathology rotation presentation on lattice retinal degeneration for Taylor Smith. He must have enjoyed my talk, because he told me immediately afterwards that if I wanted to apply to Bascom Palmer for a retina fellowship, he would be happy to offer his recommendation. I didn’t fully appreciate at that time that Vic Curtin was his close friend and the student of whom he was most proud, and with Taylor’s help and others, I was successful in getting an interview and then an offer from BPEI.
Read Dr. D'Amico's reflections »
How I wrote the classic article on Familial Temporal Arteritis
In late December 1985, the 23rd to be exact, of my senior year of residency @ BPEI, my 1st Year Resident (the late) Dr. Jack Tenzel called me into triage to evaluate an elderly woman with headaches and acute loss of vision in each eye. I carefully explained to this patient that she would be admitted, treated with intravenous steroids, and that plans would be made for a “biopsy” because she likely had a condition called “temporal arteritis”.
I was a Neuro-Ophthalmolgy Fellow at Bascom Palmer (1979-1980) under the guidance of Dr. J. Lawton Smith. He was one of a kind, brilliant, full of energy and a wonderful teacher. He was a father figure to his fellows and I was in awe of him. He was one of the “Founding Five” professors and the first Neuro-Ophthalmologist recruited to the faculty. He came from Duke University in 1962. His detailed examination of patients took hours and his written reports could be used and were used to study. He gave patients typewritten instructions and prayed for them with love and compassion before they left.
Read Dr. Boschetti-Barton's reflections »
Congratulations on the 50th anniversary of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. I am honored to be writing for this special occasion. I worked with Dr. Douglas R Anderson from August 1995 to December 1996, and studied cultured retinal pericytes in an effort to clarify the mechanisms of ocular blood flow regulation. I remember it as if it were yesterday. For me, it was a valuable opportunity to do intensive glaucoma research, as well as experience different cultures.
Read Dr. Matsugi's reflections »
When I first matched at BP, I was elated, but slightly intimidated to go to such a high profile institute. The minute I arrived I was overcome by a sense of relief and comfort. I felt completely at home because of the warm, family-like atmosphere and camaraderie.
Read Dr. Lee's reflections »
Thank you for asking me to write a memo regarding my time spent at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute as a glaucoma fellow in the year 2008-2009. It was undoubtedly the best year of training in my professional life and one of which I will always look back with fond remembrances. Most important was what I learned and the valuable relationships that I made. My experience at Bascom Palmer has helped me to become a better physician that hopefully will provide the best patient care as I possibly can. I relish the training I received at the World Famous (as Dr. Budenz calls it) Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
Read Dr. Lind's reflections »
Stepping in to my home country (India) after a year of research fellowship with Dr Douglas R Anderson, Dr Don Budenz and other staff at Department of Glaucoma at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute had an immense positive impact in my personal knowledge and skills in the field, and I learnt tips of how to become a good clinical researcher, leader and manager with a balance life style.