February 08, 2017

Jonathan D. Trobe, MD: Neuroophthalmologist, teacher/mentor, tennis player

Jonathan D. Trobe, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

I am a neuro-ophthalmologist who examines patients, trains resident physicians and conducts research, mostly in conjunction with medical students and resident physicians. I teach our medical students in their second-year classroom neuroscience sequence; teach third-year students in weekly neuro-ophthalmology case presentation conferences; mentor resident physicians in their quest for fellowship training, and our fourth-year students in their application for residency training.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The opportunity to care for patients with medical problems that are challenging enough that community physicians or academic physicians in other specialists have sought my help. I enjoy being able to share the examination of these interesting patients with medical students and physicians-in-training and in developing research projects that may allow us to improve our understanding of disease and its treatment. 

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I read, listen to classical music, play tennis, take long walks, ride my bicycle around town, and enjoy the many cultural activities of Ann Arbor.

What moment in the lab/classroom/clinic stands out as the most memorable?

The moments in the clinic or in discussion afterwards when our physicians-in-training suddenly grasp a concept that will help them better care for patients.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

My years of helping to train hundreds of resident physicians in ophthalmology, neurology and neurosurgery, of having excited countless medical students about the wonders of medicine, and collaborating with residents and fellows on peer-reviewed publications — for many of them their first published works. I also am proud of having served as editor-in-chief for 10 years of the premier journal in my specialty of neuro-ophthalmology, and of having won the Kaiser Permanente Award for Clinical Teaching of our medical students. 

Who or what inspires you?

My father, who devoted his career to social services for Holocaust survivors; my mother, a talented artist whose works have been exhibited in galleries around the world; my father-in-law, a brilliant journalist and educator who has written wonderfully about nearly everything and presided as dean over a major school of journalism; my wife, a wonderful journalist, lawyer, and former city councilor in Ann Arbor; my brother, an insightful and kind psychiatrist; and my children, who have all kinds of accomplishments.

What’s the most thrilling or adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Executing trapeze jumps in a Florida State circus tent in Columbus, Georgia, is right up there. So is rock climbing in Agulhas Negras (“Black Needles”), Brazil. And what about repelling down the cliffs of Australia? I have never been particularly trusting in devices that are supposed to keep you from falling to your death.

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?

I had a bout with keratitis and a corneal transplant during medical school that led me into ophthalmology.