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May 27, 2003

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Alumnus Peter McDonnell To Head Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute

Peter John McDonnell III, M.D., a California ophthalmologist known for his expertise in diseases of the cornea and refractive surgery, has been named the new director of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. He will take office July 1.

A 1982 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, McDonnell, 45, has been chairman of the ophthalmology department at the University of California-Irvine since 1999. He was the first physician to use excimer ("cool") lasers in the treatment of astigmatism in the 1990s and led the national clinical trials of the technology, which generates high-power, ultraviolet pulses that strip electrons from the nucleus of an atom, vaporizing tissue with shock waves.

McDonnell succeeds Morton F. Goldberg, M.D., who headed the institute since 1989. Goldberg has stepped down as director but will continue as a faculty member at Wilmer, conducting research and seeing patients.

McDonnell's research interests include surgical correction of refractive error, gene therapy for corneal wound healing and inflammation of the cornea. He has been awarded large research grants from the National Eye Institute for his studies of cataract surgery, corneal transplantation, viral diseases of the eye and laser surgeries, among other topics, and has published more than 200 journal articles on his work. McDonnell also holds four patents, two in laser surgery techniques.

"Peter is an outstanding ophthalmic surgeon, physician, teacher, researcher and administrator," says Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "We are convinced that he will serve not only the needs of the Wilmer Eye Institute, but also those of the medical school."

Adds Henry Brem, M.D., director of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins who led the national search to fill the post, "Peter McDonnell brings to Wilmer not only his surgical credentials but a demonstrated ability to envision the future and build world-class programs. At UC-Irvine, he built an outstanding clinical department and brought it to one of the top NIH-funded eye departments. He also put together an excellent residency program."

McDonnell won the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Honor Award in 1991 and Senior Achievement Award in 2001. He has also won awards for ophthalmic research from CIBA Vision, Research to Prevent Blindness and the Alcon Research Institute, and was honored by Ophthalmology Times magazine as one of the best ophthalmologists in America. A member of many professional ophthalmology and medical societies, McDonnell also serves on the editorial boards of six ophthalmology journals.

McDonnell received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Dartmouth College in 1978. After graduating from medical school, he stayed on at Johns Hopkins, completing an internship in pathology and emergency medicine, and a residency in ophthalmology. He went to the University of Southern California's Doheny Eye Institute for a fellowship in cornea and external disease, then returned to Wilmer as chief resident/assistant chief of service in 1987 before being recruited back to USC in 1988, where he rose to full professor in just six years. McDonnell later completed the University of California-Los Angeles' Executive Program in Management. In 1999, he was recruited to UC-Irvine as the Irving H. Leopold Professor and Chair.

He and his wife, Jan Menefee McDonnell, M.D., have three children. Jan McDonnell is also a 1982 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and completed her training in pathology there. The McDonnells met as classmates and married two days after graduation.

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Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins


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