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Stephen Ryan, Recipient of the Foundation’s Visionary Award, Dies at 73


Stephen J. Ryan, M.D.

May 10, 2013 – Stephen J. Ryan, M.D., a recipient of the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ Visionary Award and a renowned eye expert who served as president of the Doheny Eye Institute and home secretary of the Institute of Medicine, passed away on April 29 after a battle with cancer. He was 73 years old.

“Steve was not only very accomplished in the field of ophthalmology – he was a great guy and a great leader,” says Bill Schmidt, chief executive officer of the Foundation. “He will be sorely missed. Everyone at the Foundation sends their deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Dr. Ryan received the Visionary Award in March of 2012, during the Orange County Shine the Light Visionary Awards Dinner in Newport Beach, California, which was co-hosted by the Foundation and The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute. He was recognized for a distinguished career focused on eye health. Among many other accomplishments, he was the founding president of NAEVR, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, and served as chair of the department of ophthalmology of the University of Southern California (USC), with which the Doheny Eye Institute is affiliated. He was also dean of the Keck School of Medicine at USC from 1991 to 2004 and senior vice president of USC from 1993 to 2004.  

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1940, Dr. Ryan got his M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1965, after a residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute. He then served on Hopkins’ faculty until 1974, when he ventured west and began his tenures at USC and the Doheny Eye Institute. Under his leadership, the Doheny was ranked in the top 10 ophthalmology programs by US News & World Report and third in the nation in attracting research funding from the National Eye Institute (NEI).

The author or editor of nine books and more than 285 articles, and a renowned expert in retinal diseases and ocular trauma, Dr. Ryan testified before Congress many times in support of the NEI and the National Institutes of Health. As home secretary of the Institute of Medicine – an independent nonprofit that provides advice on health matters to policy-makers and the public – he “brought a gracious intelligence, a spirit of generosity and humility, a dedication to integrity and an affirming attitude,” the IOM’s president, Harvey Fineberg, writes on the organization’s website.

Dr. Ryan is survived by his wife, Anne, and daughter, Patricia, as well as his brothers, Richard, John and Robert and their families.



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