In 2004, Dr. Paul L. Kaufman, a glaucoma specialist and researcher who joined the Department in 1975, becomes Chair after a national search. During his tenure, Dr. Kaufman makes the residency program his top priority and twice leads the successful effort of re-accreditation by the ACGME.
Consistent with its outreach mission, the Department also establishes the Division of International Ophthalmology, teaming with the Combat Blindness Foundation to provide high quality eye care and education around the world, as well as international experience to its own faculty and residents. The same year, the Department ranks within the top-five institutions in the country in research funding from the National Eye Institute. In 2006, the Department welcomes Cat Nguyen Burkat, MD in the area of oculoplastics, Sarah M. Nehls, MD in cornea and refractive surgery, and Heather A.D. Potter, MD in comprehensive, to its growing team of clinicians.
In a major milestone, and following seven years of tireless work by Dr. Allen and Congressional Representative Tammy Baldwin, Congress passes the Dr. James Allen Veteran Vision Equity Act (H.R. 797) in 2007, giving veterans greater compensation if they lost vision in one eye during their service and later began to lose vision in the other eye.This provision now affords the same benefits for eyes that veterans have received when they lost a limb. In recognition of this achievement, Dr. James Allen receives the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, for his efforts to better veteran care.
In 2009, Dr. Daniel Knoch receives the Resident Teaching Award, having been nominated and selected by nine ophthalmology residents. In 2010, Dr. Gamm receives the Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors Award for retinal degenerative disease research, in addition to being honored with the Retina Research Foundation/Kathryn and Latimer Murfee Chair. Dr. Aparna Lakkaraju joins the department to further develop her retinal research, specifically in age-related macular degeneration at the cellular level. Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are implemented in the UW Health system after years of development and planning with Epic Systems.
In 2011, Dr. Daniel Knoch is honored with the Outstanding Clinical Teaching Award by the medical school graduating class as the best teacher from their four years in medical school – a highly unique honor, given that Dr. Knoch teaches these students for one week out of all four years of med school.
The Department is integral in bringing a spinning disk confocal microscope to the UW Core Laboratory to allow researchers to see what is happening inside living cells in real time.
In 2012, 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. This study has allowed the researchers to understand the role of blood sugar and other factors on complications from diabetes.
Dr. Nansi Jo Colley receives $1.5-million over four years to use fruit flies to study retinal degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, which she has been studying for twenty years.
Dr. Curtis Brandt’s research of the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 inspires GIANTMicrobes to create a stuffed version of the microbe as it appears under the microscope and they are available for purchase at UW Bookstore.
In 2013, Dr. Daniel M. Albert is presented with the American Academy of Ophthalmology Laureate Award for his extraordinary contributions as a pioneering eye pathologist and researcher, prominent academician, mentor of clinician-researchers and physicians, ethicist, historian and editor of leading journals and key clinical texts.