Interview with Richard S. Ruiz, MD

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Interview with Richard S. Ruiz, MD


  • 1/22/1991 (Creation)


one VHS videocassette (29:52 minutes)

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Biographical history

"Richard S. Ruiz, MD, was born in Houston on July 12, 1932. He established the Hermann Eye Center in 1977. A native Houstonian, Ruiz attended Texas A&M and graduated with an M.D. degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1957. During his internship at Hermann Hospital, Ruiz decided to specialize in ophthalmology. He was accepted at the Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit for a three year residency to train in ophthalmology, and then received a fellowship to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary of the Harvard Medical School where he trained under Charles L. Schepens, MD, who is known as the “father” of modern retinal surgery. In July 1962, Ruiz returned home and opened his ophthalmology practice in the Hermann Professional Building. He worked diligently to build his practice and during the next ten years, founded Houston Eye Associates, brought highly trained subspecialists into the partnership, and was appointed Chief of Ophthalmology at Hermann Hospital. Along with practicing medicine, Ruiz worked to improve the hospital’s training program for new eye doctors.

In 1969, the University of Texas formally announced that it would establish a medical school in the Texas Medical Center, with Hermann Hospital as its primary teaching hospital. When details emerged about plans for Hermann’s new hospital building, a facility that would be interconnected to the Medical School and the hospital’s Robertson Pavilion, Ruiz began to develop an idea to utilize space in the new building to create a world class eye center. His plan would bring together his private ophthalmology practice, Hermann Hospital eye patients, and the teaching and research of the Department of Ophthalmology at the medical school into one endeavor. Ruiz’s appointment as Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in the new medical school enabled him to take the final steps to create a comprehensive eye center. In time, the Hermann Eye Center became known for excellence in patient care, education, and research in ophthalmology.

Ruiz served as Chief of Ophthalmology at Hermann Hospital (later Memorial Hermann – TMC) from 1967 until 2009. He was the founding director of the Hermann Eye Center and the Hermann Eye Fund, and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Texas Medical School – Houston for the first thirty-seven years of its history." (1)

Dr. Ruiz died September 22nd, 2021.

  1. This biographical note is a direct quote from the book cover of: Ruiz, Richard S. and William H. Kellar. Ophthalmology at Hermann Hospital and the University of Texas, Houston: A Personal Perspective. N. p. 2010.

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A Conversation with Richard S. Ruiz, MD. with N. Don Macon. Produced by UT/TV Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Copyright 1911. 1/22/1991. Runtime is 29:52 minutes.
(0:33) Don Macon introduces the program as part of a series on the history of the Texas Medical Center. He introduces the interviewee, Dr. Richard Ruiz, Director of the Hermann Eye Center and Professor and Chairman of Ophthalmology at The University of Texas Medical School. He notes that Dr. Ruiz is a native Houstonian, whose father had also been a physician in Houston. Dr. Ruiz shares some details of his upbringing and education.
(1:53) Ruiz elaborates on his decision to become a doctor and his experience at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston, where he graduated in 1957. He recounts faculty members who were there at the time, like Chauncey Leake, Truman Blocker, and Raymond Gregory.
(3:48) He discusses his selection of a specialty. He had been interested being an internist and spent time at Mylie Durham’s family practice. He decided on a surgical specialty, started his internship at Hermann, and eventually chose to focus on the eye.
(4:59) Ruiz discusses physicians at Hermann at the time of his internship, including Director Leigh Crozier.
(6:22) He elaborates on his selection of ophthalmology as a specialty. He cites the influence of several physicians. He speaks about the current state of getting into ophthalmology programs.
(8:27) Ruiz speaks about his next steps: interning at Hermann, going to Wayne State University in Detroit, completing a retina fellowship at Harvard, and then returning to Houston.
(8:47) He discusses moving into the Herman Professional Building and setting up his practice in Houston. He speaks further about his involvement at Hermann, including in the Residency Training Program. He mentions work at St. Joseph’s, Jefferson Davis/Ben Taub, Baylor College of Medicine, and in Galveston.
(11:26) Ruiz describes an opportunity he had to lead the Ophthalmology Department in Galveston. He reports declining the chance, citing his deep investment and involvement in Houston.
(12:24) He discusses getting involved at M. D. Anderson. He was asked to be Chief of Ophthalmology at Hermann in 1967. He speaks more about forming a group, naming Charlie Russo, Malcom Mazow, Bob Stewart, and Bob Wilkins.
(14:34) From there he relates the development of the Hermann Eye Center. He stresses the role of technology. He also speaks to the politics of its creation and relationship to the medical school. He cites the support of various foundations in raising funds.
(19:40) Ruiz further describes the structure and operations of the Hermann Eye Center. He speaks about the Houston Eye Associates.
(22:15) He speaks to the Eye Center’s service to Hermann Hospital. He highlights the Hermann Eye Fund and how the Center handles indigent patients.
(23:34) He discusses Truman Blocker’s time in Houston and his support for the Eye Center.
(27:14) Ruiz discusses his children and their careers.
(28:32) Macon concludes the interview congratulating Ruiz for his accomplishments.

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Digital copy made available by the Texas Medical Center Library

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Creative Commons License 4.0, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs. Images are to be used for educational purposes only, and are not to be reproduced without permission from The TMC Library, McGovern Historical Center, 1133 John Freeman Blvd, Houston, TX, 77030,, 713-799-7899

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  • English

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  • Processing information: Digitization supported by South Central Academic Medical Libraries Consortium (SCAMeL) Speedy Startup funds, 2022.

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