UAB announces Kelly K. Nichols as School of Optometry dean

By on March 3, 2014
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Kelly K. Nichols, O.D., MPH, Ph.D., FAAO, one of the world’s leading vision scientists in the area of dry eye disease, has been named dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry.

According to UAB Provost Linda Lucas, Ph.D., Nichols will assume the role June 25.

“In what was a highly competitive search, we narrowed the list down to several strong candidates from across the country and found Dr. Nichols to be the best fit for UAB,” Lucas said. “The UAB School of Optometry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and I am confident that this hire will ensure a bright future in which the school builds on its momentum and flourishes under the leadership of Dr. Nichols.”

The School of Optometry, traditionally one of the top recipients of outside research funding in the country, graduated its first class in 1973 and has awarded more than 1,300 Doctor of Optometry degrees, 322 residency-completion certificates, 62 master’s degrees and 58 doctoral degrees. UABSO is consistently a national leader in the percentage of students who pass the national board exams.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as dean of the UAB School of Optometry,” Nichols said. “I look forward to working together with Provost Lucas and the talented and dedicated faculty to continue the tradition of clinical and research excellence.”

Nichols comes to UAB from the University of Houston, where she served as a professor since 2011. While at UH, Nichols co-founded and served as the executive director for The Ocular Surface Institute, a translational research institute focused on bench-to-bedside research on ocular surface conditions. Prior to joining the faculty at UH, Nichols was a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Optometry from 2000-2011.

“We are forever grateful for the support of our colleagues at the University of Houston, and are thrilled to join the UAB family,” Nichols said.

Nichols received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of California at Berkeley, completed a residency in ocular disease at a tertiary referral medical center in Colorado, and earned her MPH in biostatistics and Ph.D. in vision science at The Ohio State University.

Nichols has been extensively involved in professional organizations including the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry. She serves as a medical adviser to the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation and is an executive board member for the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society and a founding member of Ocular Surface Society of Optometry. She has served as grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Association, and is on the editorial boards of the journals Optometry and Vision Science, and The Ocular Surface.

Nichols’ research interests include dry eye, meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis, inflammation, impact of menopause on dry eye, dry eye diagnostics and therapeutics, tear proteomics and lipidomics, and quality of life. Nichols’ research funding has been primarily through the National Eye Institute of the NIH, in addition to a variety of industry partners.

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