Birthdate – 11/04/1942
Birth place – Harlem, New york
- Patricia Bath could have succumbed to the pressures and stresses associated with growing up in Harlem, New York. With the uncertainty present because of World War II and the challenges for members of Black communities in the 1940’s, one might little expect that a top flight scientist would emerge from their midst.
- Her father Rupert, was well-educated and an eclectic spirit. He was the first Black motorman for the New York City subway system, served as a merchant seaman, traveling abroad and wrote a newspaper column.
- Her mother Gladys, was the descendant of African slaves and Cherokee Native Americans , she worked as a housewife and domestic, saving money for her children’s education. Rupert was able to tell his daughter stories about his travels around the world, deepening her curiosity about people in other countries and their struggles.
- Her mother encouraged her to read constantly and broadened patricia’s interest in science by buying her a chemistry set. With the direction and encouragement offered by her parents, Patricia quickly proved worthy of their efforts.
- Bath was enrolled in Charles Evans Hughes High School in New York where she served as the editor of the school’s science paper. In 1959 she was selected from a vast number of students across the country for a summer program at Yeshiva University (New York City) sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
- At the age of 16 she worked in the field of cancer research under the tutelage of Dr.Robert Bernard and Rabbi Moses D. Tendler.
- In only 2 ½ years of study she was able to graduate from high school and set out for college.
- In 1964 she graduated with a bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College in New York , Soon thereafter , she enrolled in medical school at Howard University in Washington DC , Her exposure to black professors and administrators had a great impact on her belief in Black leadership in society.
- In 1968 she graduated with honors from Howard.
- In 1981 she began work on her most well known inventions which she would call a “Laserphaco Probe” The device employed a laser as well as two tubes , one for irrigation and one for aspiration (suction). The laser would be used to make a small incision in the eye and the laser energy would vaporize the cataracts in a could of minutes , the damaged lens would then would be flushed with liquids and then gently extracted by the suction tube. With the liquids still being washed into the eye , a new lens could be easily inserted , additionally this procedure could be used for initial cataract surgery and could eliminate much of the discomfort expected , while increasing the accuracy of the surgery.
- Patricia Bath retired from UCLA in 1993 and continues to advocate vision care outreach and calls for attention to vision issues.