Thomas M. Brunner graduated from Lehigh in 1963 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. He is currently the President and CEO of the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Youth and Education
Brunner was a fairly average student while at Lehigh, earning a GPA of just over 3.0. In 2003, the Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science wrote an article on him. Reflecting on his time in school, Brunner said, "I always believed I got a good education from Lehigh, both in engineering and the liberal arts. And the electrical engineering program kept me especially busy in math and physics."
After graduating from Lehigh, Brunner joined DuPont Inc. He went to work in the applied physics lab at the company's experimental station in Wilmington, Del., where he did research on lasers and their industrial applications.
In 1969, Brunner completed his M.B.A. at the University of Delaware.
Coherent Medical Inc.
Following his work at DuPont, Brunner joined Coherent Medical Inc., a small laser company in California, as a sales engineer. In 1970, he was the project manager and salesman for the first commercially successful argon laser photocoagulator. The laser revolutionized retinal surgery and found widespread use as a treatment for diabetic retinopathy.
"Laser photocoagulation was a major factor reducing blindness among diabetics," Brunner said in the 2003 article. "Before the technique became available, the incidence of blindness among diabetics with diabetic retinopathy was 50 percent. Today, it's less than 2 percent."
Brunner spent most of the next 30 years with Coherent Medical (now Lumenis Inc.), an international producer of medical and aesthetic lasers and light-based technology, where he became executive vice president. He also served three years as president of Laserscope, a start-up company that produces medical lasers.
Glaucoma Research Foundation
The Foundation's ultimate mission is to to save the eyesight of people with glaucoma through education and research. They are leading the search for a cure for the disease, which is the number one cause of blindness in the country.
Recently, he helped develop selective laser trabeculoplasty, a new, minimally invasive laser therapy for glaucoma.
In a 2003 article for the university, Brunner said, "My mission as CEO is to preserve the eyesight of glaucoma patients through research and education, and to raise money in order to support the research that will help us better understand this disease and hopefully help us figure out how to cure it."