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June 4, 2019

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Allen Beck, MD and Rebecca F. Neustein, graduate, Emory School of Medicine (SOM), and currently in the Emory Eye Center Residency Program ('18-21) review data from her SOM project evaluating the visual and clinical outcomes of two groups of childhood glaucoma patients. She was mentored by Dr. Allen Beck who has been treating childhood glaucoma for over twenty years.

Beck named ophthalmology chair and director of Emory Eye Center

ATLANTA – Allen D. Beck, MD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory Eye Center, effective May 1, 2019. He has served as interim chair of ophthalmology and interim director of the Emory Eye Center since March 14, 2016.

Dr. Beck has been part of Emory since attending the Emory School of Medicine; he graduated cum laude in 1989. Following a one-year transitional internship at Georgia Baptist Medical Center (now Atlanta Medical Center), he returned to Emory for his ophthalmology residency, which included serving as chief resident, and a fellowship in glaucoma.

“My dad was a doctor so I would sometimes shadow him,” Beck says. “I liked medicine and wanted to go into a field that included surgery. I hadn’t decided on a particular area when I went to medical school. Once I took an ophthalmology research elective I knew that was the specialty for me.”

Beck trained with Mary Lynch, MD, and Reay Brown, MD, who were recruited to run Emory’s glaucoma service in 1988. When Lynch became chief of ophthalmology at the Atlanta Veterans Medical Center in 1994, he joined the Emory Eye Center faculty after completing his fellowship.

Since that time he has established a thriving medical practice focusing on diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma in adults and children. He was appointed director of the Emory Eye Center Glaucoma Section in 1999 and the William and Clara Redmond Professor of Ophthalmology in 2006. Dr. Beck is well-known and respected among his peers at Emory and beyond, as seen by his inclusion in Atlanta magazine’s Top Doctors issue annually since 2009. He received the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Achievement Award in 2002 and the AAO’s Senior Achievement Award in 2017 for his contributions to the society and the ophthalmology profession. He was inducted into the Emory Millipub Club in 2017 and received the Emory Healthcare Provider Excellence Award in 2017. 

Beck finds clinical research fascinating and has been involved with projects related to the diagnosis and management of pediatric glaucoma, clinical studies of adult glaucoma therapies, pediatric cataract, and glaucoma compliance. He has published extensively on childhood glaucoma diagnosis and management and serves as the medical monitor for the NEI sponsored, Infant Aphakia Treatment Study (IATS), headed by Dr. Scott Lambert at Stanford University.

He has served as a principal investigator in glaucoma clinical trials, including the NEI sponsored Advanced Glaucoma Intervention Study (AGIS) and the landmark Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS) that is in its 20-year follow-up phase. Dr. Beck has a strong interest in glaucoma medication research, as well as factors that influence adherence, and participated as a co-investigator and principal investigator in the Emory-based, NEI-funded, Interactive Study to Increase Glaucoma adHerence to Treatment (I-SIGHT).

Research will continue to be an area of focus for Beck in his new role as chair. Existing lab space will be renovated, and new research faculty will be recruited to build upon the groundbreaking work already happening in Emory Eye Center’s research department.

“We’ll be expanding both basic science research and clinical trials,” Beck says. “We want to become a primary center for clinical trials, not just a participant.”

Beck also intends to strengthen the Eye Center’s work in global ophthalmology, tele-ophthalmology, and medical education.

“Tele-ophthalmology is the wave of the future and will help us take better care of people,” he says. “We want to be in the forefront of clinical care, research and trials, and technology.”

During his tenure as interim chair, Beck directed the expansion of the department with the addition of nine ophthalmologists, seven optometrists, a new satellite clinic at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, and is overseeing plans to expand Emory Eye Center's satellite clinic footprint at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital.

Several key research grants have also been acquired, including two new NIH grants in 2019 totaling $4.5 million for research related to Ebola virus disease survivors.

“Through Dr. Beck’s leadership, we are confident that the ophthalmology department and its faculty will continue to progress in their research growth, provide stellar education and training for residents and fellows, and offer patients the best care possible,” says Vikas P. Sukhatme, MD, ScD, dean, Emory University School of Medicine. “He is a natural fit for this position because of his long-time ties with Emory and understanding of both the clinical and non-clinical aspects of the department.” 

Beck is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, The American Medical Association, the Medical Association of Georgia, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, and the Emory Eye Alumni Association.

Other professional involvement includes membership on the Executive Committee for the Childhood Glaucoma Research Network, the Steering Committee for Advanced Glaucoma Intervention Study (AGIS), the American Glaucoma Society Patient Care Committee and Practice Guidelines Subcommittee, and the editorial board of JAAPOS (Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus).

His wife, Jayne Ann Beck, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. They have two sons, Andrew and Kevin, who are graduates of the College of Wooster and played varsity soccer. 


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