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Q&A with Jane Edmond: Launching a Leading-Edge Eye Institute

Dec. 13, 2017

Starting in January 2018, Jane Edmond, M.D., will return to her alma mater to join Dell Medical School as the inaugural director of the Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute and chair of our new Department of Ophthalmology.

Prior to this new role, she served as a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She is also a national expert in pediatric neuro-ophthalmology and craniofacial disorders, and a member and leader in the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and the American Board of Ophthalmology. Learn more about Edmond in the Q&A below.

What attracted you to this new role with Dell Med at UT Austin?  

I was attracted to this position because it offered the opportunity to build an ophthalmology department from the ground up — recruiting like-minded faculty who will provide cutting-edge patient care, sharing my passion for education and research, developing collaborative ties with physicians and scientists in the Dell Med and UT Austin system, and partnering with our strong local ophthalmology community in the development of the department and residency.

The visionary gift from the Wong family was another great attraction. These funds will be used to create faculty endowments, which will attract the best and brightest faculty for the department. In addition, the graduate medical education endowment will support three residents per year. Fellowship programs and a research program will also be supported by the Wong family gift. 

What benefit do you think the Wong Eye Institute will have for the people of Austin and Travis County?

Ophthalmology departments have the potential to bring great benefit to a community by hiring academic ophthalmologists who offer subspecialties of ophthalmology that were otherwise not available. My dream is that no patient will ever need to be referred outside of Austin for subspecialty ophthalmic care, and that people will travel to Austin for specialized ophthalmic care.

Furthermore, residency programs help communities by treating those with the greatest need. I look forward to working with all of our partners to provide the best and most advanced ophthalmic care to Austin’s underserved population.

In addition, the new department and its faculty will have the opportunity to collaborate with the scientists at UT Austin and in Austin’s tech industry. I expect an explosion of great innovation from the department in this rich environment. 

How will collaboration fit into the work you will be doing?

My vision is that full-time Dell Med ophthalmology faculty will partner with community ophthalmologists in training future residents. This experience will give ophthalmologists in training a real-life view of ophthalmic patients and practice, as well as exposure to academic ophthalmology. Too often in training programs, residents are only exposed to rare diseases that present to tertiary care centers. This practice shortchanges the trainee’s exposure to common “bread and butter” conditions — the very conditions that comprise the bulk of most ophthalmologists’ practices.

What are you most excited about as you make this move?

Wow, there so many things I’m excited about:

  • Collaborating with the visionary leaders at Dell Medical School, who are redesigning the way we deliver health care. I want to be part of that movement.
  • I graduated from UT Austin with a bachelor's degree in biology in 1981. It gives me deep pride to be affiliated with my alma mater and I love seeing “austin.utexas.edu” as part of my new email address.
  • I will be able to visit my family’s ranch in the Hill Country more often!
  • Austin is the hippest city on the planet. What more can I say?!