When Alan Kabat, OD ’90, FAAO,
isn’t teaching the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) students in The Eye Institute’s, PCO’s main clinical facility, or delivering lectures on topics such as dry eye, biological medications in eye care, uveitis, amniotic membranes or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), you can find him cooking perfectly prepared BBQ chicken on his grill or throwing a fishing line into the nearest body of water.
Those latter two passions — cooking and fishing — he doesn’t get to do nearly enough, he said, giving his teaching and lecturing responsibilities.
But they come naturally to him. After graduating from PCO in 1990, Dr. Kabat’s first two teaching gigs over a more than two-decade period were at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. — an area where there were a lot of fishing spots — and then at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn. — where they know how to prepare barbecue pretty well.
“My dad taught me to fish when I was five years old and that was something we always used to do together,” said Dr. Kabat. “I’m not particularly good at it. There are some guys who can put a line in a puddle and pull out a five-pound bass. I’m not that guy, but I do enjoy the solitude of it. I like to be on a lake or on the ocean and chuck a line in the water and kill three or four hours.”
As for cooking, one of the first things the self-proclaimed grill master did after he returned to the Northeast to teach at PCO in September 2018 was to buy a new grill.
“When I was in Memphis, I learned how to do barbecue properly,” said Dr. Kabat. “I really enjoy cooking.”
Dr. Kabat admitted that coming back to teach at PCO was an odd experience at first for him.
“It was very bizarre. I was treading on the same ground, but it was entirely different,” he said. “I used to live in those apartments right next to The Eye Institute (TEI). Now I look out my office window and see the parking lot where I used to park my car. It’s just bizarre being back where you were more than 30 years ago and it being entirely different than what you remember.”
One of the things that didn’t change were some of the professors that used to teach Dr. Kabat are now his colleagues.
Joel Silbert, OD ’73, FAAO,
professor at PCO; Jeffrey Nyman, OD, FAAO,
associate professor at PCO and director of Emergency Services at TEI; Holly Myers, OD ’86, Resident ’87,
associate professor at PCO and chief of Primary Care, Suite 1; Jean Marie Pagani, OD ’87, FAAO, Resident ’88,
associate professor at PCO and director of the Internship Program; Andrew Gurwood, OD ’89, FAAO, Resident ’90,
professor of Clinical Sciences and co-chief of Suite 3 at TEI; and Helene Kaiser, OD ’89, FAAO, Resident ’90,
professor at PCO were among those that taught Dr. Kabat when he a PCO student.
These days, Dr. Kabat’s primary obligations are clinical related. His greatest areas of interest are dry eye and ocular surface disease. He works in the primary care service, the emergency service and the dry eye clinic at TEI. He has also taught a variety of courses in his return to PCO — anterior segment disease, a module on injections, and ophthalmic medicine to the University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Studies students.
“That was very unique. They brought me in to do 10 hours on eyes and ocular disease for the PA students,” he said. “That was interesting, and a bit of a challenge, because the students really had no background from which to start. But I think it was a good experience and I’m hoping to do that again next year. I wear many hats.”
In addition, Dr. Kabat does a lot of outside consultant work within the sphere of optometry with a number of industry partners in the areas of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
But he’s happy to be back at his alma mater, passing along the knowledge that he’s gained to the next generation of optometrists.
“PCO was good enough to look at my track record and say maybe this guy can do a halfway decent job. And, they hired me,” he said. “But bizarre is the word that captures it. The training has changed, the profession has changed. It’s a challenge some days, but I enjoy it.”