Stephen J. Ryan, M.D.

Dr. Ryan

Stephen J. Ryan, M.D.
1940 – 2013

Steve Ryan devoted his life to pursuing the Doheny Eye Institute’s vision, “to further the conservation, improvement and restoration of human eyesight.” He served as President of the Doheny Eye Institute and helped guide Doheny to its place as a world class institution.

After launching his career in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins, he arrived in Los Angeles in 1974, where, in addition to his service for Doheny, he spent the majority of his career, 38 years, in the USC Department of Ophthalmology. He was its first full-time faculty and its first full-time Chairman from 1974 to 1995. USC’s then President, Dr. Stephen Sample, invited Dr. Ryan to serve as Dean of the Medical School, which he did from 1991 to 2004, and as Senior Vice President of USC from 1993 to 2004. One of the highlights of his service to USC was the naming gift from the W. M. Keck Foundation in 1999. Dr. Ryan poured his heart and soul into the USC Department of Ophthalmology and the Keck School of Medicine and took great pride in helping to raise USC’s stature in both the clinical and academic research arenas.

Dr. Ryan greatly enjoyed training and developing physicians at the early stages of their careers. He was particularly proud that over 26 alumni of the Ophthalmology International Fellowship Program had assumed Chair positions outside the U.S. In the U.S, 15 graduates of the USC Ophthalmology residency, fellowship or faculty currently hold Chair positions. He greatly valued his many professional relationships. Even more so, he valued the close friendships he made with these same individuals.

Dr. Ryan served as the Home Secretary of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of The National Academy of Sciences since 2005. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), enacted by Congress, is a society of the nation’s most distinguished scholars charged with providing advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology that has led to some of the most significant and lasting improvements in the health, education, and welfare of all the world’s citizens.

From 1982 to 1985, he was a Member of the NIH National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC) and subsequently chaired the Retina Panel for the NAEC. From 1975 to 1979, Dr. Ryan served as a Member of the Visual Sciences “A” Study Section in the Division of Research Grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Ryan received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Providence College in 1961 and his M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1965. He completed his residency and a chief residency at Wilmer Institute at Johns Hopkins. Providence College awarded him a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) in 1977; and the University of Leipzig awarded him a Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) in 2006.

Some of Dr. Ryan’s awards include The American Academy of Ophthalmology Laureate, Senior Honor Award, and the Distinguished Service Award; the Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., Louis B. Mayer Scholar Award; the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Kupfer Award for Distinguished Public Service; the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology Benjamin Boyd Humanitarian Award; the Fight for Sight/Mildred Weisenfeld Lifetime Research Achievement Award; the American Ophthalmological Society Lucien Howe Medal; the Doheny Professional Association Lifetime Achievement Award; and The Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars Award and Distinguished Alumnus Award.

An internationally recognized expert in the field of retinal diseases and ocular trauma, Dr. Ryan provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions in support of the NIH and the National Eye Institute.

Dr. Ryan was a member of numerous ophthalmologic organizations and served as President of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology and the Macula Society. He was the founding President of the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research and the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research. He was the author or editor of 9 books, including RETINA (5th edition), and the author or co-author of over 285 articles in the scientific peer-reviewed literature. He delivered over 30 named lectures and received over 20 prestigious honors and awards.

Dr. Ryan was a visionary and an optimist – a warm and open-hearted man who loved life and loved people.