Wilmer Eye Institute teaches leadership by example

March 1, 2010

The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, may be based near the nation's capital but, since its earliest days, the institute has considered its primary mission to improve eye care throughout the world.

Key Points

Founded in 1925 by a group of philanthropists and headed by William Holland Wilmer, MD, the institute has strived to contribute to ophthalmic knowledge and reduce suffering at home and around the world through research, education, and patient care. And, for more than a decade, the institute has led national rankings among eye institutions, including Ophthalmology Times' annual Best Programs survey.

"Every single candidate was in the top 1% of medical students for their year," he said. "It's almost an impossible task to choose among this group of stellar students. To me it really is encouraging for the future of our specialty."

With such an accomplished group of candidates, future residents must be more than good students. They must possess a "creative spark" and leadership skills that could be nurtured so that they, in turn, go on to become leaders within ophthalmology, Dr. McDonnell added.

And there is a great tradition of that. An astounding 102 trainees have gone on to be department chairpersons, he said, along with countless faculty members who have passed through the institution. Still others have left the Wilmer Eye Institute to start strong private practices or ground-breaking private enterprises, such as David R. Guyer, MD, whose company developed the first FDA-approved treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration.