January 19, 2012
Paul Lee, M.D., J.D., Returns to Michigan as Chair of Ophthalmology and Director of the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center
Dr. Lee is a glaucoma specialist whose research focuses on quality and effectiveness of health care
Paul P. Lee, M.D., J.D.
Ann Arbor, MI -- Paul P. Lee, M.D., J.D., whose appointment as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences was approved today by the University of Michigan Regents, recalls the advice he received from a legislative staff member in 1980 when he was a Congressional intern in Washington, D.C.
“He suggested that if I wanted to have a role in shaping health care and social issues, I should pursue a legal education,” says Dr. Lee, who was then a U-M undergraduate on his way to U-M’s Medical School. And so Dr. Lee set out to earn his medical and law degrees with support from his medical school advisors who helped, for example, by arranging for Dr. Lee to have an outpatient clinic rotation just down the street from the law school. Dr. Lee completed his J.D. from Columbia University in May 1986, the same month he received his M.D. from the University of Michigan.
“Health care policy did, in fact, become the focus of Dr. Lee’s research, and his insights will serve the Health System as well as the Department of Ophthalmology,” says James O. Woolliscroft, dean of the University’s Medical School. “An outstanding clinician and innovative leader, Dr. Lee is ideally suited to head a department that has grown rapidly and just recently opened a magnificent new facility for eye care, education, and vision research.”
Dr. Lee returns to Michigan from Duke University, where he served as vice chairman of the Ophthalmology Department and the James Pitzer Gills, III, M.D. and Joy Gills Professor of Ophthalmology. In addition, he held appointments as director of Applied Health Systems Research at Duke University Health System and as senior advisor to the chancellor.
Among other administrative leadership positions at Duke, Dr. Lee was chair of the Finance Committee of the physician practice and member of the Executive Management Committee of the Duke University Health System. Prior to joining Duke in 1997, Dr. Lee was with RAND, a nonprofit research organization in Santa Monica, California, and an associate professor at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.
After earning his medical degree at Michigan, Dr. Lee completed an internship in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Hospital and his ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Following his residency, Dr. Lee completed a glaucoma fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.
Dr. Lee’s early interest in public policy—and his legal training — has been central to his research and publications. He has received significant research funding for his work on assessing and improving quality of care, quality of life and outcomes research, and health systems utilization and policy— issues that are at the heart of the national discourse on health care.
Dr. Lee currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Ophthalmology and has been a consultant and board member of numerous national and international professional, governmental, and philanthropic organizations. He also maintains a referral clinical practice for complex glaucoma patients.
Dr. Lee, the 8th chair of the Department of Ophthalmology since it was established in 1872, will hold the F. Bruce Fralick Professorship. He succeeds Paul R. Lichter, M.D., an internationally known glaucoma specialist, who served as chair for 34 years and has been a mentor to Dr. Lee since his medical school days.
“The terrific work of Dr. Paul Lichter and the faculty positions us to help reshape the future of vision health and eye care,” Dr. Lee says. “It is a special privilege to help build on what he and the department have already accomplished.”
Dr. Lee’s desire is “to preserve health and vision, cure disease, and optimize each person’s visual functioning and capabilities.” According to the new chair, “Everything we do comes down to this question: can we help the person who trusts us with his or her vision?”
Dr. Lee speaks frequently of Michigan as a great university that provides many opportunities for students and faculty alike. “What sets Michigan and Kellogg apart are our people — the faculty, trainees, staff, alumni, and community,” he says. “Our obligation is to create opportunities for our people to do the things they are passionate about, things that will make a difference.”
Written by Betsy Nisbet