Constable, Ian Jeffrey

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Cit WA FRANZCO FRCS(Ed) Dip (Am Board Ophthal) FAICD Hon DSc (Murdoch)

Ian Constable has been Foundation Lions Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Western Australia since 1975, Foundation Director of the Lions Eye Institute since 1983, and Foundation Chair of the Australian Association of Ophthalmology and Visual Science since 1994. As a leading team member of the Lions Eye Institute, he has been involved in such scientific achievements as the first measurements of oxygen consumption in the living animal eye; the first artificial cornea; the first reversal of a gene defect in large animals in the eye-by-gene therapy; and the development of retinal venous anastomosis for retinal vein occlusions.

After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine, Ian began his career as a Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. By 1968, he began to follow his interest in eye disease as Trainee Registrar in Ophthalmology, a position he retained until 1970. He then travelled to Boston, USA, to engage in retinal research with both the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, receiving his Diploma from the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1973. During this time, he also worked as an Assistant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

On return his to Australia in 1975, he began his academic career as the Foundation Lions Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Western Australia and concurrently working as Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Royal Perth and the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospitals. In the following year, he extended this consultancy to three further hospitals: the Fremantle Hospital, the Hollywood Hospital and the St John of God Hospital; positions he retains to this day.

Ian has been Chief Adviser to the Board of the Lions Save Sight Foundation since 1970. Through this Foundation, which serves 180 Lions clubs in every part of Western Australia, he played a key role in initiating community screening programs for glaucoma, amblyopia, trachoma and diabetic retinopathy.

In 1983, Ian established the Lions Eye Institute in Perth to address escalating incidence of blindness. As Foundation Director he has been responsible for the fundraising, commissioning and formation of laboratories and the recruitment of over 100 scientists and support staff for this facility. The Institute has attracted extensive research grants from local, national and international sources, including from government and industry. In addition, the Lions Eye Institute has assembled a significant endowment fund. The Institute is now the largest medical eye research facility in the southern hemisphere, being the principal point of referral of major eye disease in Western Australia, and attracting numerous referrals for surgical eye care from Southeast Asia each year.

As Founding Professor of Ophthalmology, Ian heads the University of Western Australia Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science (COVS), which is based at the Lions Eye Institute. This centre combines the expertise of ophthalmologists and researchers from a broad spectrum of scientific fields.

Ian has also developed close links throughout Southeast Asia over the last three decades: He is immediate past- President of the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology, an association which serves more than half the world’s blind. For 20 years, he has been taking teams of ophthalmologists to teach in Indonesia, and has established formal Memoranda of Understanding with the University Airlangga, Surabaya and the University of Indonesia in Jakarta. Recently he was appointed International Consultant to the Tianjin International Eye Centre with the directive to develop ophthalmology in China.

In 2004, Ian Constable was appointed as Director of Eye Health Services of Western Australia advising government on policy, training and resources relating to the provision of public ophthalmic services. He is Chairman of the Premier’s Science Council, a body established to promote science in the West Australian community.

To date, Ian has received 29 Australian and international awards for his services to both medicine and the wider community.[1]

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Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Constable, Ian Jeffrey. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.