The Power List 2018
Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of The Glaucoma Service at Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
Kuldev’s research interests include glaucoma and cataract surgical trials, epidemiology, genetics and health care delivery in underserved communities. His clinical practice focuses on medical, laser and surgical management of glaucoma and cataract. Kuldev is a past president of the AGS and an advisor to the ISGS.
What have been your career highlights?
“A major highlight has been the opportunity to serve the American Glaucoma Society: as a Board member for over a decade and as President from 2013–2015. The Society has a uniquely collaborative culture and maintains a small-society feel even now that there are approximately 1500 members.”
What are your goals for the future?
“Stay healthy, balance work and life with particular emphasis on spending as much time as possible with family members.”
What has been your most successful collaboration?
“There have been many great collaborations and it is difficult to choose one. The relationships built with ophthalmology colleagues and other leaders at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which have led to collaborative workshops, guidance documents and ongoing work to support innovation have been successful and enjoyable.”
What are your plans for the next 10 years?
“The good fortune of leading several large organizations as President or Board Chair relatively early in my career has been helpful in developing efficiency in time management. It is remarkable how much free time becomes available for other pursuits when these leadership terms come to an end. Past President is the best job in any organization! Looking forward, I continue to enjoy the practice of ophthalmology and have not experienced the burnout described by some of my colleagues. The goal for the next decade is to spend at least 50% of the working week on the medical and surgical management of patients, with the remainder divided between research, teaching, administrative duties, the organization of meetings to support translational innovation and to advise those innovating to conduct properly designed studies to answer relevant questions in a timely manner.”
What drives you day-to-day?
“The opportunity to care for patients and witness their gratitude is a very special privilege that we enjoy in our profession. This should not be taken for granted and is definitely something that drives me to continue to do the best possible job every day.
We should also be driven to support ideas that are likely to work and, equally vigorously, shed light on those that are likely to fail. Ophthalmology, as a profession, has many strengths but one possible weakness is that given it is a small field, a few individuals can strongly influence investment in innovation. There is the potential for the development of echo chambers where financially motivated individuals can collude and hype ideas and theoretical products that are highly unlikely to work. The selling of worthless assets by entrepreneurs, including some who are physicians, to those investing in the field or, in some instances, to the public via the stock market, hurts our profession in many ways including the discouragement of future investment in areas where there is true opportunity to address unmet medical need. The manner in which our profession deals with such hype varies across the world, perhaps reflecting different regional cultures; with some even going as far as considering award presentation to those who walk away with large sums of other people’s money without making a meaningful or, in some cases, any contribution. In my experience, potential investors are at least as grateful for advice that saves them from making a bad bet, than they are for a tip on something that is likely to work. Our profession should collectively expose rather than reward any individual or group that is misleading investors or strategic partners. Awards should be given for contributions that improve health care rather than for making money at the expense of others who want to invest in health care.”
Who have been your mentors?
“Alfred Sommer, an ophthalmologist, epidemiologist, public health researcher and Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been a great mentor dating back to my medical school years at Johns Hopkins. Al, amongst other lessons, has taught me to challenge dogma. Mike Van Buskirk was a mentor during my residency years in Oregon, especially with regard to surgical technique and developing a big picture glaucoma philosophy. Doug Anderson, my glaucoma fellowship director at Bascom Palmer taught me to be data-driven. Doug’s objectivity and willingness to change his views based upon experimental evidence had a great influence early in my career.
While I never worked directly with George Spaeth, we share common views on many issues and I consider him a mentor and friend.
The late Carl Camras and Thom Zimmerman were both close friends and mentors who had a large impact early in my career.”