Featured Faculty Fridays: Asim Farooq, MD


Newly-hired Assistant Professor Asim Farooq, MD, was inspired to become an ophthalmologist by an unlikely source: the television.  “I saw a documentary that showed a U.S. ophthalmologist who traveled to the developing world to perform cataract surgery in the most impoverished areas,” Dr. Farooq explains. “Before that, I really had no idea what an ophthalmologist was.”  As a medical student, he was able to travel to Bangladesh for a rotation focused on corneal infections, which “solidified” his decision to become an ophthalmologist.  Dr. Farooq finished his residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago before going on to a cornea and external disease fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Farooq, who started this month at the University of Chicago, was delighted for the chance to join the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science.  “The University of Chicago has a history of academic excellence that includes the medical school but also encompasses numerous other fields including microbiology, physics, economics, and law,” he enthuses.  “[Chair] Dr. Kathryn Colby is also an excellent mentor and I’m excited to be a part of her growing Department.”  Dr. Farooq feels he has been fortunate to work and train with some of the best ophthalmologists in the country, and likes to focus on the academic aspect of the field.  While in training in 2015 and 2016, he published 10 papers.  When asked what motivates him, Dr. Farooq replies, “I am motivated by a sense of responsibility toward my patients and their families.  My favorite part of this job is helping to improve their quality of life by helping them see—it’s a great feeling!”

What do you think you would be doing if you hadn’t gone into ophthalmology?  “I was a history major in college, and if I hadn’t gone into ophthalmology/medicine, I think I would have become a history or sociology professor.”

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?  “When I was growing up, I used to memorize the stats of every Chicago Bulls player.”

Where can you be found on the weekends?  “I love spending time with family, traveling, being outside (especially hiking), and getting any form of exercise I can get!”

Any final thoughts?  “In the last several years we’ve seen incredible developments in the field of ophthalmology, and I think this trend is going to continue.  The future is bright, and I’m excited to be a part of it!”