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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Celebrates 50 Years of Breakthroughs

Posted: 02.02.2012

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Hosts Global Scientific Meeting, Announces Plans to Expand Clinical Trial Access and Collaborative Research

Celebrating a half century of ophthalmic breakthroughs, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is looking to the future and building on research advances its founders could not have imagined.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the nation’s #1 ranked eye hospital and part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, begins its golden anniversary year by hosting a global scientific meeting in Miami that begins tomorrow. With more than 600 prominent ophthalmologists attending, the Feb. 2-4 meeting will share new research projects in such areas as macular degeneration, glaucoma, gene therapy, and cellular regeneration using stem cells.

“We’re bringing together the best and brightest in ophthalmology,” said the Institute’s Chairman Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D.. “This meeting is certain to create great momentum within the field and we look forward to sharing the results with our colleagues around the world.”

Alfonso also said that in the next few years, Bascom Palmer will expand its facilities and human capital, increasing access to the latest clinical trials and finding fresh solutions to preserve vision and meet the needs of an aging population.

In the area of ophthalmic research, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is currently conducting clinical trials of a treatment to stop progression of the dry form of age-related macular degeneration and studies to discover ways to regenerate optic nerves. “Working collaboratively with our colleagues at the University of Miami, Bascom Palmer now has the most robust genetics research program in the nation,” added Alfonso. “That talent has already enabled us to identify specific genes involved in glaucoma and retinal degenerative diseases.”

On a global scale, in addition to its long-established collaboration with key research centers in Europe, the Institute is building relationships in emerging areas of the world. Specific partnerships include those with King Saud University in Saudi Arabia and LV Prasad Eye Institute in India, as well as several others in South America, the Caribbean, and China.

“Seeing things from a unique perspective is essential in the fight against blindness,” said Alfonso. “That spirit of innovation will continue to shape Bascom Palmer Eye Institute as a global leader. We will continue to focus on eye care from a global perspective and significantly contribute to life-changing and sight-saving advancements.”

Alfonso said Bascom Palmer’s expansion plans over the next few years will include:

  • In 2012, the Institute will double clinical space at its Plantation location.
  • By fall 2013, a free-standing retina center is scheduled to open on Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s Palm Beach Gardens campus. The facility will enhance patient access to clinical trials in macular degeneration and other retinal diseases.
  • By 2014, space at the Institute’s Naples facility will be significantly increased to enhance clinical care and research capability.

To accommodate increasing demand for services, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute also is developing a long-term master plan for a 500,000-square-foot patient care, research, and education facility in Miami. To be funded through private donations, the complex will be built on land purchased by Bascom Palmer Eye Institute decades ago near its current location. The complex will be twice the size of the Institute’s current space, serving as an exceptional venue for training future ophthalmologists and conducting revolutionary vision research.

For 50 years, many of the most important innovations in ophthalmology have come from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Accomplishments include:

  • Performed the first successful pars plana vitrectomy surgery and invented the micro-surgical tools required for the procedure.
  • Identified, described, and classified many of the diseases of the macula, as published in Bascom Palmer faculty member’s Stereoscopic Atlas of Macular Diseases.
  • Pioneered the use of bevacizumab (Avastin) for the treatment of exudative ocular diseases, including neovascular age-related macular degeneration, venous occlusive disease, diabetic retinopathy, and many others.
  • Performed the first modified osteo-odonto keratoprosthesis in the United States, commonly known as “eye-tooth surgery”.
    See our list of Top 15 Discoveries & Innovations from Bascom Palmer

Institute’s Founding

In the 1920s, ophthalmologist Bascom H. Palmer, M.D. a co-founder of the University of Miami’s school of medicine, rallied support to raise funds for the creation of what he predicted would be an eye clinic where patients from all walks of life would receive treatment – a facility that would be, as he phrased it in 1954, “second to none.” Upon completion, it was named Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in his honor. Edward W.D. Norton, M.D., founding chairman of the University of Miami’s Department of Ophthalmology, served as Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s initial chairman and held that prestigious position for 33 years.

About Bascom Palmer

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine – part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, is ranked the best eye hospital in the nation, as published in U.S. News & World Report. Having earned an international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer is also ranked #1 in patient care and residency training by Ophthalmology Times. As the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States, it treats more than 250,000 patients with nearly every ophthalmic condition each year and more than 12,000 surgeries are performed annually. To date, the Institute has trained more than 900 physicians, clinicians and researchers, many of whom now lead academic and clinical ophthalmology centers worldwide. With nearly 80 faculty members and 1,200 staff, the Institute demonstrates exceptional expertise in every ophthalmic subspecialty. Founded in 1962, Bascom Palmer has patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation, Florida. For additional information, contact the office of marketing and communications at (305) 326-6190, , or visit