The Eye Medical Clinic was founded in 1946 by two internationally renowned ophthalmologists, Dr. Phillips Thygeson and Dr. Crowell Beard. The clinic has, for more than 50 years, earned a reputation for excellence, both in the care of patients and in academics.
Dr. Thygeson's roots are in the Norwegian immigrant community of the American Midwest. In 1917 the Thygeson family moved to Palo Alto, where Mr. Thygeson died within a year, leaving his widow with the care of four high school and college age children. All four went to Stanford. During his internship at the University of Colorado Dr. Thygeson began what was to become a career of research, eventually playing a major role in unraveling the etiology of trachoma, the leading cause of blindness in the world. He became acquainted with Dr. Francis I Proctor, a retired eye surgeon studying the disease in the Southwest where the disease is rampant among Native Americans. The two traveled to Egypt to continue their work and in 1936 Dr. Thygeson joined the faculty at Columbia University in New York where he rapidly advanced to the rank of Professor and Chairman of the department.
At the end of the Second World War Dr. Thygeson was sent to Dibble General Hospital in Menlo Park (now Stanford Research Institute) where he met Dr. Crowell Beard, a Mayo Clinic trained eye plastic surgeon. In 1946 the two went into private practice in San Jose. The same year, Thygeson establish an institute at the University of California in San Francisco funded by the estate of Dr Proctor for the study of infectious eye diseases. After fifteen years he left the clinic to direct the Francis I Proctor Foundation at the University of California where he remained another 30 years making significant contributions to research and education. In 1989 he retired to his home in Los Altos where he remained closely associated with the Proctor Foundation and its research programs. Although physically weakened for several years he remained remarkably productive until his death at the age of 99.
Crowell Beard grew up in Napa, California the son of a haberdasher. An accomplished musician, Dr. Beard worked his way through the University of California Berkeley playing banjo and working in a clothing store he bought with his brother. He moved across the bay to attend UCSF medical school. Following his residency at the Mayo Clinic, Beard entered the U.S. Army and was stationed at Dibble General Hospital where he gained a wealth of experience treating war wounds. He developed techniques which bear his name and are still in use today for reconstruction of eyelids. His contributions to ophthalmology are legendary and include publication of the definitive text on Blepharoptosis as well as training dozens of surgeons in the field of oculoplastic surgery. He was a founding member of the American Society of Oculoplastic and Reconstructive Surgery and has been the recipient of multiple prestigious awards including (along with Dr. Thygeson) the highest of honors, the Lucien Howe Medal.
In 1959 Dr. Beard left the clinic to open a solo practice in an adjacent building. He became more closely associated with UCSF and instituted the first formal training postgraduate fellowship in oculoplastic surgery. In the years to follow he was joined in this endeavor by Dr. Quickert and together they trained oculoplastic surgeons in the preeminent program in the nation. Dr Beard continued the program after Dr. Quickert's death and then in 1975 moved his practice to UCSF where he concluded his distinguished career after another 13 years. He enjoyed an active retirement close to his family in San Jose until his death in 2003 at the age of 90.
Thygeson and Beard's practice was initially located in the St. Claire building on North First Street and San Carlos. Three years later in 1949 the practice moved to North Sixth Street, where Dr. Robert Cook's name was added to the door. Cook had trained at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco where Thygeson and Beard were professors.
Dr. Cook was born in Long Beach and grew up in Madera CA. As a youth Dr. Cook worked summers in a lumber mill in Sugar Pine that his grandfather had acquired. Here he developed a lifelong love of the mountains and carpentry. His announcement to his father of his desire to become a carpenter was not well received and young Dr. Cook was eventually convinced to choose medicine as a career. His father turned out to be a good judge of talent and Dr. Cook excelled as an undergraduate at Fresno State University and was selected to attend medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago. After a four year tour of duty in the US Navy he returned to University of California San Francisco for an Ophthalmology residency.
Dr. Cook developed an interest in pediatric ophthalmology and became an expert in the field. He co-authored General Ophthalmology with Dr. Vaughan, in which he authored chapters on eye muscle surgery. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at Santa Clara County Hospital he practiced for 35 years at the Eye Medical Clinic. He never lost his love for the mountains or working with his hands and in the 1950s, with a few friends, he built his own retreat home in the costal mountains off Skyline Blvd. Upon retiring he returned to his beloved Sugar Pine where he took up residence in his grandfather's lumber mill which years before he had converted into a home. Within a short time he developed cancer and died in 1988. His great strength of character which had guided him through life provided a final inspiration to friends and family.
In 1951 Thygeson chose Dr. Daniel Vaughan to join the practice and the four ophthalmologists moved to the clinic's current location, on Meridian Avenue, and became known as the Eye Medical Clinic of Santa Clara Valley.
Dr Vaughan was born in Montana but his roots were in the Pacific Northwest. An outstanding athlete Dr. Vaughan won the Oregon state junior golf championship at the age of 16. His passion for golf never subsided and for twenty years he sponsored the Mission Invitational Tournament to benefit the Society for the Prevention of Blindness. A highlight of his career was the opportunity to play in the "Crosby Tournament" with cartoonist Charles Shultz ,who as a result, authored a series of Peanuts comics on the importance of early recognition of Amblyopia (lazy eye.)
After attending the University of Oregon Medical school Dr. Vaughan's education was interrupted by World War II when he served as a medical officer in the First Marine Division in China. Following the war he came to the University of California San Francisco for residency in Ophthalmology. Vaughan became best known for his book General Ophthalmology, a text translated into five languages now in its 16th edition which is considered the "bible" of ophthalmology for most physicians and medical students.
During his long career, he served as a clinical professor of ophthalmology at UCSF and in numerous medical societies. He also founded two memorial funds in memory of his daughter Cecilia, who died in an automobile accident. On April 10, 2000 Dr. Vaughan died of a stroke during his battle with cancer. He was 79.
Dr. Conor C. O'Malley was raised and educated in Ireland. He came to the United States to study ophthalmology at UCLA. His brilliance and mastery of the field was recognized by Dr. Vaughan who recruited him to join the practice in 1966. His talent was not hidden for long and he became a celebrated retinal surgeon after inventing a revolutionary surgical instrument. Dr. O'Malley retired in 1998 and continues to invent, travel and write.
Dr. Marvin Quickert grew up in Morgan Hill and attended UCSF for medical school and residency. In 1966 after a fellowship in New York Dr. Quickert joined the practice and immediately collaborated with Dr. Beard at UCSF and San Jose to form the premier oculoplastic fellowship program in the country. Dr. Quickert was devoted to his patients as well as to his family. He quickly became notable as a gifted surgeon and teacher and was in demand as a speaker. In 1974 after returning home from a speaking engagement he fell victim to a scuba diving accident and died at the age of 47.
Two years after Quickert joined the practice the clinic recruited Dr. J. Winston Duggan, Professor and Chairman of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Alberta, Canada. Dr. Duggan was an avid tennis player. He practiced with the clinic for 25 years and retired from the Eye Medical Clinic in 1989.
Dr. Roderick Biswell joined the group in 1968. He was born in Baker, Oregon and attended Stanford University undergraduate and medical school. He did ophthalmology residency at UCSF and specializes in diseases of the cornea and corneal transplantation. He gained valuable experience in corneal diseases and surgery working with Native Americans on a Navaho reservation. Dr Biswell is the senior physician at the Eye Medical Clinic and has a clinical faculty appointment at UCSF.
Dr. John H. Sullivan is from Santa Rosa California. After attending University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University he did his residency at UCSF, followed by a postdoctoral Fulbright Scholarship in Australia. He trained under Dr Beard and continued Dr. Quickert's work in oculoplastics as a Clinical Professor at UCSF.
In 1979 The Eye Clinic added Dr. Robert J. Masi, a Francis I Proctor fellow is board certified in both ophthalmology and internal medicine and a specializes in infectious eye diseases and refractive surgery.
In 1991 Dr. Douglas Frederick a pediatric ophthalmologist trained at UCSF and Boston children's hospital joined the Eye Medical clinic. As had Dr Beard and Thygeson before him, Dr. Frederick moved to UCSF as a full-time faculty member.
Another UCSF faculty member, Dr Kathleen Gordon, trained at Cornell University and completed a fellowship in ocular oncology at UCSF. She was with The Eye Medical Clinic for two years before moving to North Carolina in 2001.
Eye Medical Clinic
220 Meridian Avenue
San Jose, California, 95126