“To give someone their senses back feels really satisfying,” says Kia Washington, MD, director of research and professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “To restore form and function in the hand, or restore someone’s vision, appeals to me because you can really change people’s lives. You can change the way they see the world.”
In the video below – produced as part of the “This Is Breakthrough” advertising campaign promoting the remarkable talent and innovation at CU Anschutz – learn more about Washington’s groundbreaking research into eye transplants. Her work to restore vision through Whole Eye Transplantation – a procedure that has never been successfully performed in humans – is so promising, the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Warfighters Program awarded her a $6 million grant to further her research.
“What got me into medicine was that I wanted to have a career where I could have an impact on people's lives at different levels,” says Washington, the first Black female plastic surgeon in the country to hold the title of full professor. “As a researcher, you can impact a large group of people. And then as a physician, you can impact people on an individual basis.”
“CU Anschutz is a place of collaboration, communication and innovation. People here work to make something great. That’s why I’m here.” – Kia Washington, MD, FACS
In addition to driving life-changing eye transplant research and innovative hand surgery programs on the CU Anschutz campus, Washington also serves as vice chair of diversity and inclusion in the Department of Surgery at the CU School of Medicine. “Historically, academia and surgery are institutions that were primarily white and male,” she notes. “The challenge is overcoming that history and deconstructing that system to bring more diverse voices into the community.
“My goal, especially in the work I do with diversity, is that people can belong,” she continues. “They don’t have to try to fit into a system; they can be who they truly are and bring their unique talents to the table.”
To read more about Washington and her work to create meaningful progress on diversity and inclusion in the Department of Surgery, click here.