Gholam Peyman, MD

Gholam A. Peyman, MD, the inventor of LASIK surgery who served as Professor of Ophthalmology at UIC from 1971 to 1987, was named by President Obama as one of the 12 eminent researcher recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.  He will be presented the award at a White House Ceremony in February 2013.

Infirmary collegues congratulate Dr. Peyman
Morton F. Goldberg, MD
Joel Sugar, MD
Jose Pulido, MD, MS, MPH
Harris Ripps, DSc, PhD
Howard H. Tessler, MD

Dr. Morton Goldberg, ophthalmology department head from 1970 to 1989, recalls Dr. Peyman as one of the most innovative and courageous ophthalmic surgeons of the last half-century.  “He was the first faculty appointment that I made after becoming department head,” said Dr. Goldberg, the Joseph E. Green Professor of Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and former chair of the Wilmer Eye Institute.

“In about 1969 to 1970 and thereafter, Gholam invented and developed the technique of pars plana vitrectomy, publishing  his revolutionary ideas and techniques at the same time as Dr. Robert Machemer,” Dr. Goldberg recalled.  “Both surgeons can be considered the ‘Fathers of Vitrectomy’,” he added, recalling that Dr. Peyman performed his human surgery after extensive  animal research in the laboratories housed  on the  first floor  of the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary building.  “I personally learned vitrectomy in Dr. Peyman’s lab,” Dr. Goldberg said.

“I was a resident at the Infirmary when Gholam Peyman arrived at UIC as a young researcher,” said Dr. Howard Tessler, Res’72, Professor of Ophthalmology Emeritus at UIC.  “He was always available to residents with innovative answers to problems,” Dr. Tessler continued.  “Many of his initial ‘far out’ ideas, such as subretinal surgery, eventually became realities and standard treatment.”

“Later as a faculty member at the Infirmary, I was able to collaborate on patient care with him,” Dr. Tessler said.  “Gholam’s presence at the Infirmary helped establish it as one of the cutting edge departments in the nation.

In 1971, Dr. Peyman began evaluating the injection of antibiotics into the vitreous to treat endophthalmitis.  In addition, he and his colleagues have evaluated the intravitreal toxicity of many antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, antiproliferative, and immunosuppressive agents.  He also developed the eye-wall resection and internal resection technique for the removal of tumors from the eye in the 1970s. This technique often spares the patient from enucleation and allows some sight to remain.

Dr. Jose Pulido, Res’85, Professor of Ophthalmology at the Mayo Clinic and former head of the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, recalls working with Dr. Peyman as a first-year resident.  “I approached him with an idea of looking at the toxicity of intravitreal antivirals.  He was and is the kind of person who never says no as the first response, but rather says yes and gently guides you to developing a good question and a good way to answer it,” Dr. Pulido stated.  “He engrained in me the enthusiasm to look for answers where none exist, and that has shaped my life and the life of many other clinician scientists,” he added.

Dr. Peyman has contributed greatly to the development of ophthalmic technology.  His inventions cover a broad range of novel medical devices, intra-ocular drug delivery, surgical techniques including the first pressure-controlled valve for glaucoma surgery (now known as the Krupin valve), laser and optical instruments, as well as new methods of diagnosis and treatment.   The first intraocular telescope for patients with macular diseases was developed by Dr. Peyman and Dr. Jeffrey Koziol, Res’78, Cornea Fellow’79, while they were at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary.  Of his more than 135 patents, the most widely known invention is LASIK eye surgery.

Research scientist Harris Ripps, DSc, PhD, a member of the faculty from 1985 to 2008, recalled with great fondness the many conversations he had with Dr. Peyman.  “Gholam was an absolutely delightful gentleman who was always willing to share his current undertakings and far-reaching plans with colleagues,” he said.  “Gholam listened with intense interest when I described the research I was embarked on, and his insightful comments and suggestions showed how keenly he was aware of developments far afield from his own research.”

“Dr. Peyman has contributed more to the advancement of ocular therapy than any other individual I know,” Dr. Ripps added.

Dr. Peyman holds the appointment of Professor of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Arizona–Phoenix and Professor of Optical Sciences and Engineering at UA-Tucson.  He also is Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology at Tulane University and continues to practice vitreoretinal surgery at Arizona Retinal Specialists in Sun City West.

Dr. Peyman last visited the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary in June 2012 to give the Peter A. Kronfeld, MD, Memorial Lecture at the 36th Annual Alumni/Resident Day.  Dr. Joel Sugar hosted the event while serving as interim department head.  “Gholam is an exceptionally bright and innovative physician, scientist, inventor who is able to look at problems in ways most of us never think of,” Dr. Sugar said.  “While at the Infirmary he made many of his important contributions and helped launch the careers of a number of clinicians and scientists.”

Dr Peyman is a member of the editorial board of nine distinguished ophthalmology journals.  He has won numerous honors and awards, including induction into the Hall of Fame of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Hall of Fame.  He also has received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the first translational research award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

“I am so honored by this award,” said Dr. Peyman in a statement to AZBio, the publication of the Arizona Bioindustry Association.  “I am gratified that our work has touched so many people,” he continued.  “We work always to enhance treatments and improve the outcomes for patients.  We continue to look forward since there are many more problems to solve.”

According to a statement issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980.  It is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office. The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the Nation’s technological workforce. Nominees are selected by a distinguished independent committee representing the private and public sectors.

Dr. Rohit Varma, now chairman of the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, considers Dr. Peyman’s contributions to ophthalmology and vision science a hallmark of the creativity and innovation that is emblematic of the Infirmary’s past, present and future.  “Dr. Peyman serves as a role model for all of us,” stated Dr. Varma.  “His innovations have helped thousands of patients either regain vision or prevent reduction in their vision.  On behalf of the Infirmary’s’ staff, residents, fellows and faculty, I would like to congratulate Dr. Peyman on his remarkable accomplishments.”