OPHTHALMOLOGY PROFESSORS OFFER UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING
An Emory University
undergraduate course, "Biology of the Eye," is the only undergraduate
offering taught by Emory University School of Medicine (SOM) professors.
The offering gives the Emory Department of Ophthalmology the distinction
of offering a course where students signing up for Biology 475 will
actually be taught by SOM ophthalmology professors.
In the five years that the
course has been offered, it has gained enrollment, and in fact, has
been a quite popular course among both undergraduates and several graduate
students in molecular biology. Cited in course evaluations as "refreshing"
and "interesting," the course draws on the expertise of various researchers
in ophthalmology to teach in their respective areas. Thus, students
are exposed to many of the Ophthalmology Department's researchers, and
as one student exclaimed, "It's like going to a new class every time."
The Eye Center not only offers
the course teachers, but also provides the meeting space for the classin
its Calhoun Auditorium in the South Clinic's tunnel level. Undergraduate
students meet in the same auditorium where Grand Rounds for ophthalmology
residents are held.
"This is a course that will
last a lifetime," says course creator and director Henry F. Edelhauser,
the Sylvia M. and Frank W. Ferst Professor of Ophthalmology and director
of the Eye Center's research program. "These students learn everything
about the eyefrom embryology to diseases, conditions, and surgery options.
They also come away knowing what to look for in a good eye exam," he
Currently, there are 36 full-time
students enrolled with two students auditing the class. Teaching Assistant
Nicholas Kiefer (class of 2003) was a student himself, just last year.
He plans on a career as a physician. "It was great to interact with
all the different ophthalmology professors, and it was really interesting
to learn about the various ophthalmic issues as an undergraduate biology
major. I particularly liked how specialized the course was, especially
for an undergraduate course."
"This course is a great recruiting
ground for future physicians and researchers," says Thomas M. Aaberg,
Sr., chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Emory
Eye Center. "We are pleased to be able to offer this service to the
University while at the same time potentially impressing these young
students with the importance of the field of medicine and ophthalmology."
The students seem to appreciate
the diversity of faculty too, says Edelhauser. Some 20 researchers and
other professionals in the Department of Ophthalmology teach in their
particular fields of expertise, something the students seem to appreciate.
The course begins with an
overview of the eye, common vision problems, ocular anatomy and embryology.
It then progresses to focus on the lens, cornea, infections, vision
correction (refraction) including refractive surgery, and explores more
detailed anatomy, glaucoma, ocular pharmacology and the retina. The
final classes deal with diseases of the retina, eye muscles, neuro-ophthalmology,
electrophysiology, pathology and low vision (vision strongly impaired
by refractive errors or disease, requiring special helps in restoring
A recent class, "Evolution
of the Eye," taught by Machelle T. Pardue, PhD, not only provided detailed,
comparative anatomy of the eye with other animals and insects, it even
touched on the philosophical, addressing the mystification with which
Charles Darwin held the complexity of the eye.