Three UNTHSC projects recognized with “Health Care Hero” award

By Jan Jarvis

Abe Clark
 
For most of this fall, Abe Clark, PhD, spent his mornings at Fort Worth elementary schools, screening preschoolers for eye diseases that could damage their vision.

His dedication to the community-based vision screening project caught the eye of the Fort Worth Business Press, which named Dr. Clark as a 2018 Health Care Hero. Dr. Clark will be recognized for his efforts to improve the vision of the community’s children and his long-time commitment to eye research.

The Business Press also recognized two other UNTHSC projects and the people behind them:

  • Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, a UNT System Regent, and Tobi Jackson, President of the Fort Worth ISD School Board, will be honored for their work with UNTHSC’s Asthma 411 program.
  • The planned TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine is being recognized as the biggest story and contribution to health care in Fort Worth over the last three decades.

The annual Health Care Heroes Awards recognizes excellence in the medical community. Each year it is awarded to outstanding physicians, administrators, volunteers and other dedicated individuals.

When he learned about the honor, Dr. Clark, Regents Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience and Executive Director of the North Texas Eye Research Institute (NTERI), was quick to shine the light on others.

“This honor means a lot to me because of the recognition of our research and community-based efforts at UNTHSC for better vision health,” he said. “I am accepting this award on behalf of all the UNTHSC faculty, staff and students who helped with this project as well as NTERI researchers committed to discovering new therapies to treat eye diseases.”

For years, Dr. Clark has worked tirelessly to bring vision screening to people at risk throughout the community. Most recently he has focused on screening young children, whose education might suffer because they cannot see the blackboard due to eye disease and vision damage.

In addition, he has spent countless hours in his lab working to discover new therapies to treat eye diseases that can rob people of their vision. He has devoted much of his career to researching glaucoma and finding a cure for this serious eye disease.

Whitley and Jackson are being recognized for their advocacy for the Asthma 411 project, which provides training to school nurses to help them recognize respiratory distress in children. Participating schools receive medical equipment to intervene when an asthma attack occurs at school.

During the project, absenteeism among students with asthma dropped dramatically and the number of 911 calls for the condition fell from 19 to only one over two years. Jackson and Whitley have been instrumental in helping introduce the program to school districts across the region.

The Business Press will also recognize the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine for making the biggest impact in the community over the last 30 years. A committee selected the MD school as the biggest story and contribution to local health care over three decades.

The new medical school is scheduled to open in 2019, pending accreditation.

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