Gary W. Abrams, M.D., F 78
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. My 2 years on the faculty were marked by continued advances in vitreoretinal surgery and the continued attraction of outstanding fellows to the vitreoretinal program. Among the outstanding fellows during my 2 years on the faculty were future leaders Stanley Chang and Mark Blumenkranz.
In 1980 I departed for Milwaukee, WI where I joined Tom Aaberg (BPEI) and my co-fellow at BPEI, Trex Topping, at the Medical College of Wisconsin where I had completed my residency. I spent 12 magical years in Milwaukee where I was lucky to help train some of the leading vitreoretinal surgeons in the country and help advance vitreoretinal surgery in a premier clinical and research setting. I was chief of the vitreoretinal service from 1988-1992. Fellows trained during my time in Milwaukee with later significant academic contributions were Andy Packer, Greg Brinton (BPEI), Randy Campo (BPEI), David Parke, Rich McDonald, George Williams, Bill Mieler (BPEI), Matt Thomas (BPEI), Dennis Han, Hilel Lewis, Glenn Jaffe, Dan Schwartz, Culver Boldt (BPEI) and current BPEI faculty member, Tim Murray. The years in Milwaukee were years that I treasure because of the positive energy surrounding us as we worked to advance vitreoretinal surgery.
My wife, Dr. Jane Werner (BPEI, Gass fellow, 1987-88) and I left Milwaukee in 1992 and joined Associated Retinal Consultants in private practice in Royal Oak, MI where I stayed for 18 months before moving to Kresge Eye Institute of Wayne State University in Detroit where I became Professor and Chair from 1993-2011. During my time as chair at Kresge Eye Institute, we tripled the size of the faculty, expanded our reach by opening satellite clinics, increased research funding and productivity, improved residency training and established a significant endowment. I was elected to the Board of Trustees of ARVO representing the Retina Section and served as President in 2004-2005. I remain on the Board of the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research and served as chair from 2007-2011. I was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology where I served as President in 2005 and 2006.
My wife Jane is in private practice (Retina) in Ann Arbor, MI where we have lived since 1993. My daughter Leslie has 3 children and lives in Oklahoma City, OK where she practices law. Jane and I spend most of our free time in an active lifestyle. I was on the Bascom Palmer running team with Lee Duffner, Joe Singer and others in 1979 and 1980 and we competed (and did well) at the Hospital Corporation of America competition in Nashville. I am still an active runner and even qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. Jane and I are avid cyclists and we have done a number of major cycling events. I rode from San Diego, CA to Savannah, GA in 26 days in 2006 and from Kalispell, MT to Albuquerque, NM through the Rocky Mountains this summer.
After stepping down as chair of the department this year, I remain on the faculty of Kresge Eye Institute and am enjoying what I like best: taking care of patients and teaching fellows and residents. I was privileged to train at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and play a small part in the development and advancement of vitreous surgery. Jane and I extend our congratulations to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and all of its present and past members for 50 years of excellence.
Gary W. Abrams, M.D.