Black History Month – Honoring Patricia Bath
As part of Black History Month, we’re spotlighting black inventors who made impacts in their respective career fields.
Patricia Bath was the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent in 1988 (US Patent No. 4,744,360). She later received four additional patents. Dr. Bath was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2022.
After graduating from Howard University College of Medicine, where she co-founded the Student National Medical Association, Patricia Bath was the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology in 1973. Two years later, she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.
In 1981, Dr. Bath began working on her most well-known invention: the Laserphaco Probe (1986). Harnessing laser technology, the device created a less painful and more precise treatment of cataracts. With her Laserphaco Probe, Dr. Bath was able to help restore the sight of individuals who had been blind for more than 30 years.
Dr. Bath has been recognized as a laser pioneer, and among her numerous honors she has been recognized by the National Science Foundation, the Lemelson Center, the American Medical Women’s Association, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Museum of Vision & Ophthalmic Heritage, the Association of Black Women Physicians with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Ophthalmology Contributions, and by Alpha Kappa Alpha with its Presidential Award for Health and Medical Services.