John Milton McLean Medal Lecture

Dr. Carmen Puliafito is a exceptionally successful innovator in ophthalmic technology, a leading figure in medical education as well as health care administration and policy, and a pivotal individual in Ophthalmology. He is Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, holder of the May S. and John Hooval Dean's Chair in Medicine, and Professor of Ophthalmology and Health Management at the Doheny Eye Institute, roles he assumed on November 1, 2007. We are delighted to welcome him to deliver the John Milton McLean Medal Lecture here at Weill Cornell Medical College in his home state of New York.

A native of Buffalo, he later became a graduate of Harvard College in 1973 and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Medical School in 1978. During medical school, he had a one-year ophthalmic pathology fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary that resulted in an auspicious scientific and literary start: his first publication was in the New England Journal of Medicine (industrial toxins and choroidal melanoma), his second was in the Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine (a new antiviral for herpes simplex keratitis), and the third was in Ophthalmology (the earliest work with timolol for glaucoma). Dr. Puliafito completed his residency at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School in 1982 followed by a vitreoretinal fellowship also at the Infirmary that was completed in 1984. Amazingly, during his vitreoretinal fellowship, he became a recognized international expert on the Nd-YAG laser, an expertise he would later ramify into every aspect of laser research and innovation and would lead to his foundation of the Morse Laser Center at the Infirmary in 1985, his presidency of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery 1994-1995, and his editorship of Ophthalmic Surgery, Lasers, and Imaging which continues to this day.

There followed a highly successful period on the Ophthalmology Department faculty at Harvard, where he performed many firsts, including the first diode laser application to retinal tissue, and, almost incidentally, revived the abandoned indocyanine green angiographic techniques by the innovative application of video technology. In 1991 he became Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine and Founding Director of the New England Eye Center. He brought that program into the front rank of Ophthalmology.

In 2001, he became Director of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and Professor and Chair of Department of Ophthalmology of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In a remarkable period of activity, he increased the faculty from 33 members to 70. He opened two additional satellite patient care centers in Naples and Plantation Florida. He guided fundraising for and development of a $22 million, seven acre campus in Palm Beach Gardens. Bascom Palmer's research funding rose from $2.5 million to more than $8 million. For his work on optical coherence tomography, which he co-invented and continues to develop, Dr. Puliafito was awarded (along with James Fujimoto and Eric Swanson) the 2002 Rank Prize – the world's most prestigious award in optoelectronics. He also co-developed the wildly successful use of Avastin as an intravitreal therapy. These many outstanding accomplishments easily secured the #1 ranking for Bascom Palmer three years after his arrival.

Dr. Puliafito's seemingly limitless energy is replenished in the company of his beloved wife Dr. Jane Pine, and his three children Amy, Ben, and Sam. They are all talented and distinctive individuals, and all are indefatigable (and now joyous) Red Sox fans, an enthusiasm that was fueled by Dr. Puliafito's lifelong passion for baseball. He is also a noted collector of US postage stamps, having assembled an internationally acknowledged collection remarkable for its comprehensiveness.

Newly established as Dean at the Keck School of Medicine, he has just completed a no-less-remarkable "First 100 Days" initiative, where he has secured broad and effective communication with his faculty and school, achieved notable new philanthropic gifts, and outlined his vision for the school which is impressive, innovative, and compassionate. We were deeply honored to have him with us as the John Milton McLean Medal Lecturer.


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