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School of Medicine alumna featured speaker at honors convocation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, 304-696-7153

School of Medicine alumna featured speaker at honors convocation

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Stephanie Skolik, an ophthalmologist (retinal specialist) and president and CEO of the Huntington Retina Center, will be the featured speaker Friday, May 1, at the annual Elizabeth Gibson Drinko Honors Convocation at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center on Marshall University’s Huntington campus.

The convocation, part of Marshall’s 21st annual Celebration of Academics, starts at 7 p.m. in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center and is free to the public. One hundred ninety-nine Marshall students will be recognized for academic achievement by their colleges and departments. The convocation will be followed by a public reception.

The event is named for Elizabeth Gibson Drinko, a longstanding supporter of academic programs at Marshall University.

Skolik, who grew up in Huntington, received her Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, followed by her M.D. degree, both from Marshall University. She was a finalist in the U.S. Olympic Trials in basketball in 1980 and a Rhodes Scholarship finalist in 1981.

At 12 years of age, she began painting and at 13 spent the first of three consecutive summers hanging around the art department at Marshall on the sixth floor of Smith Hall. She ran the four miles there each morning from her home in east Huntington, and soon became a welcome guest in the Marshall Art Department.

The sympathetic faculty opened their hearts and studios (and leftover paint and supplies)and allowed her to remain there, usually the entire day, migrating from class to class and studio to studio. Painting has remained an important and essential interest throughout her medical career, and, appropriately so, as the practice of medicine is often called “the art of medicine.”

Skolik completed residency and internships in ophthalmology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as well as fellowships in ocular immunology at the National Eye Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, and a Vitreo-Retinal Fellowship at Yale University, New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut.

She then stayed on the faculty of Yale Medical School before returning to Huntington, to the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in 1995, where she served first as assistant and then associate professor for five years.

Along the way, Skolik took two years off from full-time medicine to pursue a full-time artcareer as a painter while in Washington, D.C. She explained, “I took a couple of years off andthought maybe I was really meant to be an artist and that is what I was really supposed to do, andI found it was just not enough human contact,” Skolik said. “I was alone, and there was no structure and this was nice, but it was too hard to be an artist. It’s easier and more fulfilling to be a doctor, and I have really never looked back.”

She was honored with the 2013 Outstanding Woman in Technology award for her retinopathy research and invention of devices to assist with eye surgery. She is the founder of the American Retina Research Foundation and heads Eyedea Inc., an ophthalmic invention company. Skolik holds multiple patents for ophthalmic medical devices and has co-authored a number of papers in the field.

Her first major art exhibit, Inner and Outer Vision, opened in November 2014 at the Huntington Museum of Art. Skolik combined the visual art experience of her paintings with in-depth verbalnarratives, braille labels, and 3-D reliefs, making it an exhibit that was accessible to everyone.

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Date Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2015