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Business & Profession Professional Development, Business and Innovation

Better by Design

You’re an inventor. How do the ideas come – are they the result of lots of discussions, or are they just rays of inspiration entering the brain?

Rays of inspiration often come from many discussions and collaborations. I am part of the Chandler-Grant lineage of glaucoma-trained ophthalmologists. Chandler and Grant trained dozens of glaucoma specialists, including David Epstein and Joel Schuman, and their original teachings espoused the importance of being a clinician-scientist, and working collaboratively. I remember David Epstein explaining to me that all I need to do is listen to my patients to hear what problems are most in need of solving. I was also fortunate to train with Joel Schuman, who was part of the team that brought optical coherence tomography (OCT) to ophthalmology, and he was constantly thinking of new ways to approach old problems.

I think I am a product of my environment, as I was certainly encouraged to actively think through patient-centered problems, and not accept the “status quo”. Once our team identifies an unmet need, the problem is discussed in a collaborative atmosphere of MDs and PhDs, and we work together to find the best solutions. Often we fail, but we simply pick up the pieces and look for a new course. Sometimes we succeed in identifying a new surgical treatment or imaging approach, and this opens up doors for our team and our patients. I see my translational research as an integral part of who I am: a caretaker of patients.

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About the Author

Malik Kahook

With over 30 patents filed, Kahook’s research is focused on novel devices and surgical instruments for glaucoma and cataract surgery, and advanced imaging techniques. He is Director of Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Colorado, and is also the editor of Essentials of Glaucoma Surgery, MIGS: Advances in Glaucoma Surgery, and author of over 250 papers, chapters and abstracts. He was named New Inventor of the Year 2009 and Inventor of the Year 2010 at the University of Colorado.

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