November 1, 2002

Sternberg brings new vision to Ophthalmology

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Sternberg brings new vision to Ophthalmology

The Department of Ophthalmology has a new pair of eyes steering its course. Dr. Paul Sternberg Jr., currently a professor at Emory University, will begin as the George W. Hale Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences on January 1, filling the position Dr. Denis O'Day held from 1992 until his retirement this spring.

"We were fortunate to find such a qualified candidate as Dr. Sternberg to build on the foundation established by Dr. O'Day," said Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, dean of the School of Medicine.

Sternberg, a retina specialist with focused interest in age-related macular degeneration, will bring with him basic and applied sciences, including an NIH RO-1 grant titled "Antioxidants and age-related macular degeneration" worth $1.3 million. He will establish a lab to conduct cellular biology and biochemistry as it relates to his research, to be temporarily housed in departmental space on the eighth floor of Medical Center East, and he will add the element of clinical trials with several projects now underway at Emory — an implantable miniature telescope for people with vision loss due to macular degeneration, two new studies with intraocular anti-angiogenic agents for wet macular degeneration and a new agent for dry macular degeneration.

"I was very impressed with Vanderbilt's commitment to create a world-class clinical teaching and research program," Sternberg said from Atlanta. "I felt there was a true vision of the medical center as a whole, shared not only by the vice chancellor and the dean, but also by the chairmen and the faculty. There seemed to be excellent communication and commitment to achieving the goals we have set for the Ophthalmology department, and the opportunity to create something special and unique."

Sternberg's immediate goal will be to boost the department's rank in NIH funding. Currently, it sits at 57; Gabbe announced last year an institutional goal of being in the top 10 in 10 years. "I would like to see the department in the top 20 by 2010. That's definitely reachable, and we might make the top 10," Sternberg said. Additionally, he wants to attain Center of Excellence status in macular degeneration, pediatric ophthalmology and diabetic retinopathy. And, he said, he wants to "significantly increase" involvement in randomized clinical trials research.

Originally from Chicago, Sternberg went to prep school at Andover, received an undergraduate degree from Harvard and graduated from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He trained at Chicago, Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute (where he was director of the Maryland Eye Trauma Center) and did a fellowship at Duke. He went to Emory in 1985 and has been Thomas M. Aaberg Professor of Ophthalmology since 1994.

Sternberg and his wife, Gloria Sternberg, have two children; Zachary, who will be a fifth grader at Harding Academy, and Matthew, who will be in seventh grade at Montgomery Bell Academy. Gloria recently completed a master's in clinical psychology and is working toward certification in marriage and family therapy.