Theres something positively eye-catching about Biology 475.
First, theres its title: Biology of the Eye.
But that title also has the distinction of the being the only undergraduate
course taught by School of Medicine faculty, specifically, the Department
In the five years the course has been offered, it has gained enrollment
and has been quite popular 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.
In fact, the Emory Eye Center not only provides instructors for
the course, but also meeting spacein its Calhoun Auditorium
in the South Clinics tunnel level. Undergraduates meet in
the same auditorium where Grand Rounds for ophthalmology residents
This is a course that will last a lifetime, said course
creator and director Henry Edelhauser, the Sylvia M. and Frank W.
Ferst Professor of Ophthalmology and director of the Eye Centers
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.
Currently, 36 full-time students are enrolled with two students
auditing the class. Medical student and teaching assistant Nicholas
Kiefer took the class himself just last year in preparation for
his 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, Kiefer
said. I particularly liked how specialized the course was,
especially for an undergraduate course.
The students also enjoy the diversity of faculty, Edelhauser said.
Some 20 researchers and other professionals in the Department of
Ophthalmology teach in their particular fields of expertise, something
the students seem to appreciate. Its like going to a
new class every time, one student said in a course evaluation.
The semester begins with an overview of the eye, common vision
problems, ocular anatomy and embryology. It progresses to the lens,
cornea, infections, vision correction (refraction, including refractive
surgery), and then explores in more detail 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 help in restoring useable vision).
A recent class, Evolution of the Eye, taught by Eye
Center researcher Machelle Pardue, not only provided detailed, comparative
anatomy of the human eye with other animals and insects, it even
delved into the realm of the philosophical, addressing the mystification
with which Charles Darwin held the eyes complexity.
This course is a great recruiting ground for future physicians
and researchers, said Thomas Aaberg, chair of ophthalmology
and director of the 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.