Philanthropist, world-renowned eye surgeon James Gills co-authored two ID-friendly books Darwin under the microscope and The Mysterious Epigenome and spearheaded an ID-friendly project related to the epigenome. Named after him is the James P. Gills Professorship in Opthalmology at Johns Hopkins University.
Here is a nice narrative of Dr. Gills:
TARPON SPRINGS – The blue-masked man bends forward in his rolling chair, back stiff, eyes pressed to microscope. On his surgical table lies a woman wrapped in blue like a package, except for naked right eye, lid peeled back, pupil widely dilated, bathed in light. ¶ He is busy with two slender instruments. One obliterates a lens, opaque as butter. The other suctions out milky debris. He slips a tube into the same incision and deposits a folded thing that spreads like the wing of a moth. The folded thing becomes a clear lens. It all takes five minutes. The woman sees again. ¶ The blue man is on his feet, hobbling away on severely damaged legs. He stops in the hall for 10 sit-ups, still masked. Time for 10 more cataract surgeries, time to celebrate with patients, to praise the Lord, to sign book No. 27, to pet his Labrador retriever – even time to once more Indian-wrestle his old nemesis, Darwin. ¶ He is Christian guru, joke collector and Ironman Triathlon legend. He is millionaire philanthropist and West Virginia ol’ boy. He is honored medical innovator who, among his colleagues in science, stands on the lonely nay side of evolution. ¶ What DNA composition produced James P. Gills, M.D., 72-year-old blue-masked cataract surgeon? ¶ “A question like that can’t be answered,” says Gills’ son Pit, now his partner ophthalmologist. “Some people have a fire for life. That’s just part of it.”
James P. Gills built the ophthalmology clinic on U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs that’s about the size of a minor United Arab Emirates palace. It’s the one with the electric billboard as big as a drive-in screen. He calls it St. Luke’s. He gets there by bicycle every day. His usual ritual is to rise at 5, read the Bible aloud, read his joke books “a man’s thing,” his wife says, mystified, board bicycle and tear down the Pinellas Trail, arriving at work in shorts and helmet.
He used to run to work. He no longer can.
It’s one of those stories his wife, Heather, tells with a wince. About 10 years ago, Jim broke his leg in a cycling accident. It was a terrible fracture, required three surgeries. The leg had to be lengthened 3 inches. Then he flung himself into physical therapy with such intensity that the bone couldn’t heal properly. It was excruciating.
Says Heather, “He doesn’t feel pain like you or I.”
Back on his feet, Jim was on marital probation when they went skiing in Colorado. “Don’t do anything crazy,” Heather begged. He skied safely, the first day.
Then a buddy showed up, the two men charged to the slopes, and “pronto, he broke the other leg.”
Heather cried when they brought him down.
They’ve been together 45 years. Fractures have left Jim 3 1/2 inches shorter than he was when Heather fell in love with her lifeguard on Myrtle Beach, S.C., and married him.
Headlong is how it has always been.
– – –
In Gills’ operating rooms, the miracle of sight happens quicker than a tire change. Come on in, take your clothes off, lie down, open that eye, look at the blue man, zap, zap, sight restored.
He has been doing that for 40 years. It’s never been quite enough. He applied for three medical patents this year and published his 27th book, Exceeding Gratitude for the Creator’s Plan. It references Darwin, Jesus, Einstein and John the Baptist. He prints 40,000 books a month and sends them to 2,000 jails and prisons. He’s the most popular author on death row.
He has endowed four medical chairs. He has helped build 2,500 churches. He won the 2007 Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award from his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. He no longer runs marathons (27) or Ironmans (5) – he owns the Ironman franchise, by the way – or Double Irons (6), but cycles 7 miles on his bent legs to work.
It’s still not quite enough. There’s a hesitancy as he lists his accomplishments. There’s always that hesitancy.
In his latest book, Gills recalls his medical studies at Duke in 1965, the same year Sir John Eccles won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on the cell and what’s called its electrophysiological transmembrane potential.
Gills, the student, marveled over the miracle of living cells and electricity. He made a tiny instrument called a nanopipette to measure electrical potentials across a cell membrane. He found electrical fields generated by the cells at times larger than the electrical fields found near power lines.
From his book, Exceeding Gratitude for the Creator’s Plan: “As I gazed at the phenomenal activity of life produced by the hundreds of functioning entities within one microscopic living cell, and its ability to integrate perfectly with more than 60-million other cells of the human body, my ingrained philosophy of evolution was jolted.”
The student dared to see himself as a university researcher, peering into the origins of life – a Sir James who one day might challenge Darwin.
Instead, Gills became an ophthalmologist.
“I never thought I’d practice medicine,” he says. “I thought it was a downgrade.”
But clinical work pushed aside those dreams at Duke. “It just didn’t work out.”
He’ll never win a Nobel. But he gives people sight.
– – –
These random thoughts from James P. Gills: We breathe about 630-million times over an average lifetime. The average speed of a sneeze is 68 mph. The skin has a surface area of more than 2 square yards. The human body is composed of 10,000-trillion atoms – more than the stars of the universe. We make 2-million red blood cells every second. We have 9,000 taste buds.
He was born that way. His grandmother memorized the New Testament. He likes to accumulate ideas, take them apart, down to the molecule, use the pieces to prove his faith. To prove God’s existence, he hauls out quantum physics. “Absorbed with great ideas and minds,” his wife says.
The cells of the retina – rods for dim and peripheral vision, and cones for color and fine detail perception – translate light photons into electrical impulses for the brain. . . . (It) would take a Cray supercomputer 100 years to simulate what is occurring in the eye every second.
It had to have taken God’s design, not evolution, to accomplish such “flawless form and function,” Gills argues. He doesn’t just believe in a creator. He tries to prove it.
That’s a misread of Gills, says his close friend Chuck Colson, the former political aide to Richard Nixon, who served seven months in prison because of Watergate. After his sentence, Colson went on to found the Prison Fellowship, a national Christian ministry. He and Gills have visited prisons all over the country. Gills fixed Mrs. Colson’s cataracts (as well as Billy Graham’s).
By telephone from Virginia, Colson asserts that Gills believes what he believes because he’s a Christian. He has faith. Period. He’s a genius, but he doesn’t have to prove anything.
Heather Gills points out that Colson is a lawyer, and her husband is a scientist.
“God has given Chuck a different kind of mind than my husband.”
Her husband, she says, has faith, but he does look for proof of God’s hand in creation. “He examines the evidence,” she says. “I don’t know if it’s a backup for his faith or not.
“Many great minds come to God. God meets us all where we are.”
Here is Dr. Gills’ bio. He has endowed 4 chairs including 2 at Johns Hopkins, and one of those endowed chairs at Johns Hopkins bears his name.
EDUCATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL AWARDS
Elected to the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars 2007
Consulting Professor of Ophthalmology – Duke University of Medical Center
Recipient of the Philip M. Corby Memorial Award and Keynote Speaker at the Hawaiian Eye Meeting, January 2008.
Awarded the 2005 Duke Medical Alumni Association’s Humanitarian Award
Chosen by his colleagues for inclusion in The Best Doctors in America® 1994-2004 (Copyright 1998 by Woodward/White, Inc. of Aiken, S.C.)
Received the 2003 distinguished Achievement Award from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Received the Ephraim McDowell Award from the Christian Medical Foundation in 1994
Named one of the Best Ophthalmologists in America by ophthalmic academic leaders nationwide in 1996
Received the 1996 Innovator’s Award from the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery
Serves as a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of South Florida
Earned the American Academy of Ophthalmology Service Certificate in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession
1997 recipient of the Society of Excellence in Eyecare James Loden Award for years of significant and outstanding service to ophthalmology
Recipient of University Distinguished Achievement Award, 2003,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Endowed four chairs in medicine: a “superchair” at the University of South Florida, two at Johns Hopkins University, and one at Duke University Medical Center
Named to Duke University Medical Center’s Board of Visitors and to the Advisory Board of Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute
Member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, Duke Chapter
First Tom Landry Lifetime Award – Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Received the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award, 2007
Recipient of the Visionary Award – Foundation Fighting Blindness 2009
Listed in Marquis Who’s Who in Americ, 1988, 1990, 1998
1990 – Entrepreneur of the Year – State of Florida
1993 – Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame
1995 – Tampa Bay Ethics Award – University of Tampa
2000 – Florida Enterprise Medal – Merchants Association of Florida
2000 – Humanitarian of the Year – Golda Mier/Kent Jewish Center
2000 – Free Enterpriser of the Year – Florida Council on Economic Education
2001 – “Others” Award – The Salvation Army
2003 – Lifetime Achievement Award – Somebody Cares Tampa Bay
2004 – Innovator of the Year – West Pasco, Florida
2005 – Rotary Centennial Service Award for Professional Excellence
2006 – Chosen by the readers of Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today as one of the top 50 cataract and refractive opinion leaders
2007 – Frederick E. Fisher Humanitarian Award
2008 – Legacy Award – Lifework Leadership Tampa Bay
Elected to the Board of Directors of the American College of Eye Surgeons -1996
Duke University Medical Center’s Board of Visitors
Advisory Board of Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute at John Hopkins University
Consulting Professor at Duke University
OTHER PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
Aid for International Medicine, Inc.
American Academy of Medical Ethics
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American College of Eye Surgeons
American Medical Association
American Society of Outpatient Surgeons
Christian Medical Foundation
Florida Medical Association
Florida Society of Ophthalmology
International Intra-Ocular Implant Club
International Eye Foundation, Society of Eye Surgeons
International Kerato-Refractive Club
Johns Hopkins University Alumni
Johns Hopkins Wilmer Residents Association
Research to Prevent Blindness
Society for Excellence in Eye care
Society of Geriatric Ophthalmology
Dr. James Gills has published ten medical textbooks (four of which were best sellers at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meetings):
Surgical Treatment of Astigmatism
Small-Incision Cataract Surgery
Biological Response Modifiers for Ophthalmic Tissue Repair
Corneal Topography (Contributing Author)
Sutureless Cataract Surgery
An Atlas of Corneal Topography
Cataract Surgery – State of the Art
A Complete Surgical Guide for Correcting Astigmatism
A Complete Surgical Guide for Correcting Astigmatism (Second Edition)
Dr. Gills has also written more than 195 medical reference journal articles as well as twenty books dealing with Christian principles and physical fitness.
HT: Tom Woodward who is spending this weekend with my family