Our History

1848

Governor Nelson Dewey includes a medical school in the newly created University of Wisconsin.

1848

Dewey Includes Medical School at University of Wisconsin

Governor Nelson Dewey includes a medical school in the newly created University of Wisconsin.

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1904

Charles Bardeen

With the hiring of Charles Bardeen, the university acknowledges the need to incorporate more human-related studies of anatomy and physiology in the pre-medical biology program.

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1904

Bardeen Creates Anatomy Department

With the hiring of Charles Bardeen, the university acknowledges the need to incorporate more human-related studies of anatomy and physiology in the pre-medical biology program.

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1905

Genesis of the Wisconsin Idea Attributed to Fromer UW President

The genesis of the Wisconsin Idea is often attributed to former UW President Charles Van Hise

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1907

The two-year College of Medicine, consisting of the departments of anatomy, physiology, physiological chemistry and bacteriology and hygiene, is created; Bardeen is appointed dean. Classes are held in the in the attic of historic Science Hall and the old Chemical Engineering building.

1907

Two-year College of Medicine Created

The two-year College of Medicine, consisting of the departments of anatomy, physiology, physiological chemistry and bacteriology and hygiene, is created.

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1910

Bardeen Creates the Department of Clinical Medicine

In response to the typhoid epidemic and to encourage the development of clinical services in Madison, Bardeen creates the Department of Clinical Medicine (Student Health Service). Other small hospitals on campus follow.

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1914

Davis Invited to Madison to Join Future Davis and Duehr Eye Clinic

Dr. Frederick Allison Davis (F.A. Davis) is invited to Madison to join the future Davis and Duehr Eye Clinic in Madison, originally started by Dr. Corydon Greenwood Dwight.

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1920

Surgical Subspecialities are Instituted at UW

Surgical subspecialties (plastic surgery and orthopedics) are instituted at UW. Ophthalmology lives in the Surgery Department from now until 1970.

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1921

The first eye pathology lab established at UW. (Image: Original hospital building with McArdie addition built in 1939)

1921

First Eye Pathology Lab Establishes

The first eye pathology lab established at UW.

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1924

Dr Frederick A. Davis

He led the Department until 1954. During those 29 years as Chair, he also developed a busy clinical practice (Davis, Neff and Duehr), published scientific articles (including his timeless paper on direct ophthalmoscopy), established Ophthalmic Pathology as part of the service, trained his successor and partner Peter A. Duehr (1932), married Edith Swenson, and fathered two daughters and two ophthalmologist sons, Frederick J. (Jeff) and Matthew D. (Dinny) Davis.

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1924

DR. FREDERICK A. DAVIS

Texas-born Frederick Allison Davis, MD, the Department’s first professor, and Chair, originally graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1909. He then completed his residency at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and his postdoctoral training at Harvard, Pennsylvania and in London and Vienna. He led the Department until 1954.

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1924

School Expands Curriculum to Four-year Program

The school expands its curriculum to a four-year program after Wisconsin General Hospital opens in 1924.

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1925

Lions Club Features Helen Keller

Lions Clubs International features Helen Keller as the guest speaker.

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1926

Dwight Retires Leaving Clinic to Davis

Dr. Dwight retires, leaving the clinic in Dr. F.A. Davis’s capable hands.

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1927

First Graduates of Four-year Program

Nineteen men and six women become the first graduates of the University of Wisconsin Medical School's four-year program.

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1928

Service Memorial Institute Opens

Service Memorial Institute, abutting Wisconsin General Hospital, opens, serving as the School’s academic home. Scientific and clinical staff now work together collaboratively.

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1930

Mohs Develops Surgical Technique to Remove External Tumors

Frederic Mohs develops a surgical technique to remove external tumors, such as mouth, lip and skin cancers while sparing normal tissue.

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1932

Duehr Completes 2-year Residency in EENT and Plastics

Dr. Peter Alexander Duehr completes his 2-year residency in EENT and Plastics and then joins the Davis and Neff Clinic and University staff.

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1934

Dr. Peter A. Duehr

Dr. Peter Duehr completed his two year combined residency at UW and joined the Davis and Neff Clinic in 1934 as both a part-time clinical faculty member and a practicing ophthalmologist. He inaugurated the era of specialization by adding services directed by a fellowship-trained retina specialist in 1956, followed by Glaucoma (1960), Neuro-ophthalmology (1961), and Oculoplastics (1968).

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1934

Duehr Joins Davis and Neff Clinic

Dr. Peter Duehr completed his two year combined residency at UW and joined the Davis and Neff Clinic in 1934 as both a part-time clinical faculty member and a practicing ophthalmologist.

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1937

Stevens as First EENT Resident to Graduate

Dr. Ralph Stevens is the first EENT resident to graduate from the newly established 3-year program.

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1945

Ophthalmology Formally Separates from EENT

Ophthalmology formally separated from EENT at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

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1946

Dr. George Kamabara

DR. GEORGE KAMBARA

George K. Kambara, MD, completed his residency in ophthalmology here in 1946. Although he graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1941, as an American-born Japanese (Nisei) he was caught up in anti-Japanese sentiment after Pearl Harbor and sent to the Tule Lake Relocation Camp (internment camp) in California.

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1946

Mings Becomes First 5-year Preceptor

Shortly after WWII, Dr. Dwain Mings became Dr. Neff’s first 5-year preceptor at the Davis and Neff Clinic.

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1948

Corcoran as First graduate of the 3-year program in Ophthalmology

Dr. George Corcoran was the first graduate of the 3-year program in Ophthalmology, followed 6-months later by Dr. Levon Yasugian. Both doctors had active practices throughout their careers.

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1949

Duehr Becomes Junior Partner

Dr. Peter Duehr becomes junior partner of Davis and (Neff) Duehr Clinic after Dr. Neff suffers a heart attack.

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1950

Davis Joins Father at the Davis and Duehr Eye Clinic

Dr. Frederick J. Davis joins his father at the Davis and Duehr Eye Clinic after completing his residency in New York

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1954

Davis Retires, Duehr Becomes the Second Chair

Dr. Frederick A. Davis retires. Dr. Peter A. Duehr, beloved clinician and teacher, becomes the second Chair of the Eye Service.

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1955

McPherson Graduates as First Female Resident

Alice R. McPherson, MD, graduates as the first female resident from the program.

Dr. Matthew D. Davis completes his residency.

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1956

Retina Service Specialization Added

Retina service specialization added as the first of several new sub-specialty training programs.

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1959

DR. GUILLERMO DE VENECIA

After completing his residency, Dr. de Venecia received additional ophthalmologic pathology training at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and in neuro-ophthalmology and glaucoma in Miami and Boston, respectively.

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1960

Glaucoma Service Added

Glaucoma service added as a sub-specialty training program.

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1961

Duehr Forges an Affiliation with the Veterans Affairs Hospital

Dr. Duehr forges an affiliation with the Veterans Affairs Hospital with Drs. Fred Blum and Donald Peterson who were in private practice in Madison.

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1962

Residency Program Grows

The residency program grew from training one resident a year to two. On his own initiative, Dr. William Siebold completes his comprehensive eye residency through the VA Hospital and performed the first intraocular surgery there by a resident.

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1967

Residency Program Grows

The residency program grew from training two residents a year to three

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1968

Oculoplastics Service Added as a Sub-Specialty Training Program

Oculoplastics service added as a sub-specialty training program and Dr. Richard K. Dortzbach returns to Madison after a fellowship at the Eye Foundation Hospital in Birmingham, AL to head this area with the guidance of Frederick J. Davis.

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1969

DR. MATTHEW DINSDALE DAVIS

Dr. Davis’s major and enduring contributions to ophthalmology are pioneering collaborative multi-centered clinical trials and establishing the first ophthalmic photographic reading center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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1969

The Eye Bank of Wisconsin in Madison is Established

Dr. Matthew D. Davis leads as full-time Chairman of the Section of Ophthalmology and is instrumental in elevating the Ophthalmology Service to department status.

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1970

Dr. Davis Diabetic Retinopathy Study

DIABETIC RETINOPATHY STUDY

Matthew D. Davis led this study because of his experience in evaluating the natural course of the disease.

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1970

Department of Ophthalmology is Established as A Standalone Department

The Department of Ophthalmology is established as a standalone department within the UW Medical School.

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1971

Pediatrics Service Added

Pediatrics service added as a sub-specialty training program.

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1972

Corneal and Anterior Segment Services Added

Corneal and anterior segment service added as a sub-specialty training program.

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1978

Duehr Retires

Dr. Peter A. Duehr retires.

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1979

De Venecia Clinic

Dr. Guillermo de Venecia Establishes The Free Rural Eye Clinic

Dr. Guillermo de Venecia and his wife, nurse Marta de DeVenecia establishes the Free Rural Eye Clinic (FREC) in the Philippines to provide cataract surgery and other ophthalmologic care to indigent patients.

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1980

Kleins Begin Large-Scale Epidemiological Study

Professors Barbara and Ronald Klein begin their large-scale epidemiological study with the cooperation of 452 physicians in southwestern Wisconsin

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1984

Kleins' Epidemiological Study Follow Up Phase Begins

The “follow up phase” of the Kleins' epidemiological study begins - they continue to track the duration of diabetes, the frequency of retinopathy and other genetic factors.

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1985

University Hospital Introduces First Helicopter

The University Hospital introduces its first helicopter to better serve emergency care patients.

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1986

Chandler Becomes Chairman

Dr. John Chandler, a 1965 graduate, becomes the chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology.

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1989

Davis Receives the Award of Merit

Dr. Matthew D. Davis receives the Award of Merit from the Retina and Macula Societies to acknowledge his outstanding contribution to national clinical studies of diabetic retinopathy.

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1990

Bresnick Assumes Position of Acting Chairman of Ophthalmology

Dr. George Bresnick, a 20-year member of the department’s retina service, assumes the position of acting Chairman of Ophthalmology.

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1991

Department Name Changes to The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Dr. Paul Kaufman pushes to change the department’s name to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences to codify its research mission.

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1992

Dr. Daniel M. Albert Becomes First Chair Without Previous Ties

Dr. Daniel M. Albert, an internationally recognized ophthalmic pathologist, becomes the first chair without previous ties to Wisconsin or the University.

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1993

Dr. Albert successfully completes the research building initiative started by Dr. Chandler by opening the Ophthalmology Research Wing of the Clinical Sciences Center. Dr. Fred Brightbill and Chris Murphy, DVM, PhD, put on the first annual Resident Phacoemulsification (Phaco) Course at UW-Madison with 12 future physician and veterinary ophthalmologists.

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1993

Dr. Albert Completes the Research Building Initiative

Dr. Albert successfully completes the research building initiative started by Dr. Chandler by opening the Ophthalmology Research Wing of the Clinical Sciences Center.

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1995

Department Holds First Vision for The Future Conference

The department holds its first Vision for the Future conference where more than 150 community members discussed the clinical, research and educational initiatives with faculty.

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1996

Chandra Receives 1996 Humanitarian Service Award

Suresh R. Chandra, MD, receives the 1996 Humanitarian Service Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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1997

Sabb, Lucarelli, Blodi, and Gottlieb Welcomed to the Department

Four new ophthalmologists are welcomed to the department - Patricia C. Sabb, MD (comprehensive ophthalmologist and assistant professor), Mark J. Lucarelli, MD (assistant professor and oculoplastics surgeon, Barbara A. Blodi, MD, and Justin L. Gottlieb, MD (retinal specialists and assistant professors).

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1998

The Retina Research Foundation of Houston Establishes Two Chairs

The Retina Research Foundation of Houston, TX (founded by Alice R. McPherson) establishes two chairs in support of basic vitreoretinal research.

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1999

UW Health East and West Eye Clinics Open

UW Health East and West Eye Clinics open to provide more access to care to the growing community and better serve patients.

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2000

Davis Steps Down As Director of the FPRC

Dr. Matthew D. Davis steps down as Director of the Fundus Photograph Reading Center (FPRC), but continues conducting research. Dr. Ronald P. Danis, a recognized leader in conducting clinical trials at UW, assumes the direction of the FPRC.

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2001

First Lady Laurie McCallum Raises Awareness About Glaucoma

Wisconsin’s First Lady, Laurie McCallum, works with the department to raise awareness about glaucoma and discusses her experience with the disease.

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2002

Albert Steps Down As Chair

Dr. Albert steps down as Chair in 2002 and Thomas S. Stevens, MD, a Retina specialist who had served as Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs since 1990, becomes Interim Chair - serving in this position until 2004.

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2003

First Dedicated Stem Cell Researcher Joins the Department

Dr. David Gamm, the first dedicated stem cell researcher, joins the department, connecting it with other stem cell pioneers at the University of Wisconsin.

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2004

Kaufman Becomes Chair After National Search

Dr. Paul L. Kaufman, a Glaucoma specialist, and researcher who joined the Department in 1975 becomes Chair after a national search.

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2005

UW-Madison Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

UW-Madison Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

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2006

Burkat, Nehls, and Potter Join Team of Clinicians

The department welcomes Cat Nguyen Burkat, MD (oculoplastics), Sarah M. Nehls, MD (cornea and refractive surgery specialist) and Heather A.D. Potter, MD (comprehensive) to its growing team of clinicians.

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2007

Congress passes the Dr. James Allen Veteran Vision Equity Act

Congress passes the Dr. James Allen Veteran Vision Equity Act (H.R. 797), after seven years of tireless work by Dr. Allen and Congressional Representative Tammy Baldwin, to give veterans greater compensation if they lost vision in one eye during their service and later began to lose vision in the other eye.

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2008

Allen receives the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. James Allen receives the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts to better veteran care.

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2009

Knoch Receives Resident Teaching Award

Dr. Daniel Knoch receives the Resident Teaching Award, as selected by nine ophthalmology residents.

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2010

Gamm Receives the Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors Award

Dr. David Gamm receives the Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors Award for retinal degenerative disease research.

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2011

Knoch Honored with Outstanding Clinical Teaching Award

Dr. Daniel Knoch is honored with the Outstanding Clinical Teaching Award.

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2012

Barbara and Ronald Klein are awarded more than $3-million from the National Eye Institute

Drs. Barbara and Ronald Klein are awarded more than $3-million from the National Eye Institute to continue their long-range study of patients with Type 1 Diabetes.

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2013

Dr. Daniel M. Albert is presented with Laureate Award

Dr. Daniel M. Albert is presented with the American Academy of Ophthalmology Laureate Award.

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2014

Terri L. Young Becomes First Woman to Hold Position As Chair

Terri L. Young, MD, MBA joins the department, from Duke University after a nationwide search.

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2016

Dr. Matthew D. Davis honored as the 2016 Academy Laureate

Department recognized as national leader in the output of publications per faculty out of all ophthalmology programs in the US.

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2017

Dr. Paul Kaufman Receives the Friedenwald Award

Dr. Paul Kaufman receives the Friedenwald Award at ARVO.

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