Malik Y. Kahook
The Power List 2020 – Power List 2020
The Slater Family Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology, Professor and Chief, Glaucoma Service at the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center, The University of Colorado’s Department of Ophthalmology, Aurora, USA
Your three wishes?
I have a few wishes that center on the future of ophthalmic care, and are all interconnected. I wish for greater utilization of drug delivery platforms in the near future, so that poor adherence to therapy is no longer an issue for my patients. Second, I wish for cost-effective and reproducible surgical approaches for treating cataracts and glaucoma that are available in the developing world, so that all patients who require surgical management will have access without limitations. My third wish would be for quicker access to functional and reliable AI platforms for diagnosing disease and recommending treatments so that the level of care is more uniform across healthcare delivery settings. Alternatively, I would use my third wish to get a few more wishes because my list got longer as I answered this question.
Piece of advice for your younger self?
If I could have a phone call with my younger self, perhaps from 15 years ago, I would tell young Dr. Kahook to start mission work in underserved areas at a much earlier time in his career. I find this part of what I do to be the most fulfilling, and creating bridges between the University of Colorado and international centers is full of benefits for both sides. I would also tell myself to buy Amazon stock.
The most serendipitous OR funniest moment of your career?
The most serendipitous meeting that I have had in my professional career was the day I interviewed with Joel Schuman for fellowship. I knew from that first meeting that I had found a mentor and friend for life, and I have not been wrong about either.
What was the most unexpected turn your career took?
The most unexpected turn in my career revolves around my startup work with companies like New World Medical, ClarVista Medical, SpyGlass Ophthalmics and others. I always knew that research would be a central part of my work. However, I did not contemplate how much of my time would be spent working with various startups and launching devices in the US and abroad. The crossover from academic researcher to startup entrepreneur has been very fulfilling, but certainly not something I mapped out from the first day of practice. These partnerships and resulting device launches have allowed us to treat over 100,000 patients in just a few short years, and we have many more innovative treatments to come in the near future.