Glaucoma has been a key component of the department’s curriculum since the days of Dr. Otto Barkan who was recognized for his influence on the treatment of congenital glaucoma in the 1930’s and 40’s.
Dr. Otto Barkan was followed by alum Robert Shaffer, MD in the late 1940’s who was internationally known for his innovative work in the management of glaucoma. Co-author of the landmark reference book, Becker-Shaffer’s Diagnosis and Therapy of the Glaucomas in 1961, he also co-founded the Glaucoma Research Foundation in 1978, along with Drs. H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr and John Hetherington.
Dr Robert Stamper arrived on campus in August of 1972 after having been recruited by Dr. Bruce Spivey, Chairman of the Department and Dean of the nascent University of the Pacific Medical School. Stamper, a graduate of SUNY had completed his residency and fellowship in glaucoma at Washington University, St. Louis where he was an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology.
At the start of Stamper’s tenure as Program Director, few formal didactics were available within the department except for occasional Grand Rounds speakers. For didactic education, second year residents attended the Stanford basic science course held each summer in Palo Alto. This course was organized and taught by academically inclined community ophthalmologists from around the Bay Area.
Glaucoma clinical training was provided by a distinguished group of dedicated volunteer faculty, including Drs. Homer Brugge at Highland Hospital, D. Richard Reynolds at the Southern Pacific Hospital, William Ferguson (Otto Barkan’s former partner), Ernest Denicke, Edward Tamler (Ed Maumanee’s former partner), Margaret Henry, and Cole Stephens at the new clinic or in their offices in San Francisco. Stamper served as Chief of Glaucoma with a full-time core clinical faculty, but most of the clinical teaching would continue to be done by the many highly qualified community ophthalmologists who had been supporting the residency program in ophthalmology since its inception.
Over the next several years, the small cadre of full-time faculty grew and the 70’s and 80’s were taken up with organizing a formal curriculum for the residency, an in-house didactic program and strengthening the clinical teaching. After a glaucoma fellowship was established graduates went on to academic careers at major institutions like Stanford, and George Washington University. Many international glaucoma fellows returned to their own countries as influential leaders in China, France, Israel, and Switzerland.
From 1972 through 1998, over 50 research papers on various aspects of glaucoma by faculty were published in peer-reviewed journals. Cooperative research projects were developed between the visual scientists at Smith Kettlewell Research Institute of Visual Science (SKERI) and the glaucoma service. Most of the research was made possible by the financial support of the Pacific Vision Foundation.
Dr. Marc Lieberman, a graduate of Johns Hopkins and the UCSF Glaucoma fellowship, joined Stamper in writing and updating Becker and Shaffer’s textbook on glaucoma in 1989 which was a standard text in the field for many years. A second edition followed 10 years later. They were prolific not only in contributing to peer-reviewed literature but also working cooperatively with SKERI colleagues on novel treatment techniques for the disease. Particularly intriguing was their paper demonstrating success with bleb-needling to revise a failing trabeculectomy as this was not considered routinely as a management option at the time in the eastern part of the US.
The glaucoma faculty achieved national and international recognition as evidenced by the presidencies of the American Glaucoma Society, Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, Prevent Blindness Northern California and as well as various important positions in the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the Residency Review Committee, and the American Board of Ophthalmology.
Around 1995 the full-time faculty was dismantled coincident with the merger of the medical center with the Sutter Health group. Some of the full-time faculty found a welcome in the private practice of Pacific Eye Associates on campus and continued their clinical, research and teaching activities there. Many ultimately moved on to positions elsewhere. While the formal glaucoma fellowship ended, there was expansion of the strong community-based support for the glaucoma department in the entire SF Bay area.
Dr. Marc Lieberman took over the reins of the glaucoma service after Dr. Stamper left in 1998 to become a professor and Director of Glaucoma at UCSF. Dr Lieberman remained a central figure in glaucoma education for over 20 years. He was a fixture running glaucoma grand-rounds and involving all community-based glaucoma doctors, ensuring they felt part of the team. As a hands-on educator for the residents, Lieberman engaged with them daily in both his office and operating room while continuing generously to help covering resident clinics and clinic cases when needed.
Dr. George Tanaka also became a key central figure in the CPMC glaucoma community and resident training program. After Harvard Medical School, Tanaka came to CPMC for his residency, going on to Northwestern for a glaucoma fellowship (1997-1998) under the direction of Ted Krupin. He returned to join the CPMC clinical faculty in 1998. Since 2018, George Tanaka has served as co-director of the glaucoma division with Jason Bacharach who credits him with much of the heavy lifting, describing him as a superb educator, gracious with his time, inquisitive, incredibly smart, well-versed in disease management and on the forefront of surgical innovation.
Dr. Jason Bacharach, co- director of the Glaucoma Service, is a graduate of Hahnemann Medical School, competed his fellowship training in Glaucoma at the Jules Stein Institute at UCLA, and later moved to Sonoma County, joining Dr. Paul Campion in private practice. Campion was one of many part-time comprehensive community doctors staffing resident clinics on the 5th floor at CMPC Pacific Campus and Bacharach soon joined as an adjunct instructor. Bacharach best exemplifies the tradition of a volunteer teacher clinician as he has traveled for years between his Sonoma county office to the San Francisco residency giving generously of his time to the residency. An active researcher, he is the Principal Investigator in numerous pharmacology and device studies in efforts to increase the effectiveness of glaucoma management as well as numerous other ocular diseases.
Over the past 20 years, our residents have had the opportunity to work with many amazing community-based glaucoma experts who continue to donate their time to teach office-based and surgical glaucoma management. Long time faculty volunteers include Drs. Jane Loman at Kaiser, Sidney Williams, Patricia Wong, Andrew Iwach, Terry Pickering, Sunita Radhakrishnan, and Scott So, to name a few. Recently, Dr Irena Falkenstein, has joined as a valuable contributor to the training program.
During the residents’ second and third year of training, they rotate at Highland Hospital where there is a large cohort of patients with severe glaucoma. Surgical cases are overseen primarily by East Bay practitioners including Drs. Karen Graham and alumna Edie DeNiro. Recent graduate Dr. Jonathan Hernandez has returned as a faculty member by becoming Chief of Ophthalmology at Highland in 2020 having completed a glaucoma fellowship at U.C. Davis.
Apologies to all faculty not mentioned by name. Your contributions to the program continue to make this a highly sought-after residency program for medical students. There are so many wonderfully dedicated contributors to this legendary program. With names like Stamper, Lieberman, Tanaka and Bacharach training hundreds of young doctors in glaucoma management over the last 20 years in our program, and greats such as Barkan making their mark at CPMC long before, we stand on the shoulders of giants.