Stephen Pflugfelder, Class of 1973, Inducted in 2004
For ophthalmologist Stephen Pflugfelder, the “eyes” definitely have it. He’s found his medical practice and work as a professor at the Cullen Eye Institute of Baylor College of Medicine to both be fulfilling and rewarding.
“I always had an affinity for science and I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in a scientific field,” he said. “Medicine was particularly attractive because of the ability to translate knowledge into patient care. Ophthalmology appealed to me because it’s a high technology field with excellent outcomes. It’s an extremely rewarding specialty.”
Steve’s journey from F-M grad to medicine took him to Colgate University for undergrad work, then to SUNY Upstate Medical University. He completed an ophthalmology residency at Baylor College of Medicine, followed by a corneal fellowship at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
In 1985, he joined the faculty of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, but headed back to Texas and Baylor College of Medicine in 2000.
Like many Hall of Distinction inductees, Steve credits a teacher at F-M with sparking his career interest.
“Dr. Jeanette Key taught my Advanced Placement biology course,” he explained. “She was a very inspiring teacher who really stimulated my interest in science and medicine.”
As a prolific researcher, and practitioner in his field, Steve has published over 110 research articles, book chapters and monographs on diseases and surgery of the cornea. In addition, he’s been named as one of the “Best Doctors in America” in a survey of physicians. He also serves on the Corneal Study Section of the National Eye Institute and on the Editorial Board of the journal “Cornea.”
In spite of his move to Texas, Steve says he misses Central New York and will always be a “yankee” at heart.
“Houston is a prosperous community with the world’s largest medical center. It provides me with unique opportunities for research and patient care. Texans, like New Yorkers, have a lot of pride in their state. I find them to be friendly, sincere and respectful, very much like people in Central New York.”
Steve has been married to his wife, Maureen, for 23 years. They have a 12 year old son, Christopher, who shares his dad’s love of music. An avid runner and skier, Steve is also a “doc who rocks,” playing guitar in a band with a bunch of other doctors in Houston.
What advice would he give students considering a career in medicine?
“Medicine is a highly rewarding profession, despite the problems with our health care system. It takes a lot of focus, dedication and hard work to become a doctor. Nevertheless,” he adds, “it’s a very satisfying career.”