Hugh TAYLOR (Australia)

Professor Hugh R Taylor AC undertook his training in medicine and ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne. He worked with the late Fred Hollows as Associate Director of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program and completed his Doctorate of Medicine on Aboriginal Eye Health. This work among Indigenous Australians influenced his career and his work to improve vision in the world’s most disadvantaged populations, reaching beyond Australia including Mexico, Liberia, Tanzania, Nepal, Vietnam and Eritrea.

He spent 1977 to 1990 in the United States and held chairs in the Schools of Medicine and Hygiene and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He was the associate director of the International Center for Preventive Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

He returned to the University of Melbourne in 1990 as Ringland Anderson Professor of Ophthalmology – the chair named for his grandfather – and Head of the Department of Ophthalmology. In 1996 he founded the Centre for Eye Research Australia, now one of Australia’s leading eye research institutes. In 2008 he took up the Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne and was appointed a Melbourne Laureate Professor in 2011.

As a leading corneal surgeon he has also been heavily involved in teaching and hospital work, teaching a generation of ophthalmologists the importance of clinical care with both a population and research perspective, invaluable lessons they will apply to the rest of their medical careers. His clinical work focused particularly on corneal transplantation and eye banking, external disease and refractive surgery which he pioneered in Australia.

Professor Taylor is recognised as a clinician-scientist whose research has included laboratory science and clinical research. His primate model for trachoma confirmed the importance of recurring Chlamydia infection of the eye. Other contributions include work on ivermectin as chemotherapy for onchocerciasis (river blindness), the link between ultraviolet radiation exposure and cataracts, cigarette smoking and eye disease and contributions to the control of trachoma.

Hugh Taylor has served as a consultant to many agencies, governments, and foundations, and has been a member or chair on numerous advisory committees. He is President of the International Council of Ophthalmology and the former Regional Chair and Vice President of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. He has been recognised with 18 international awards including the 2015 Jose Rizal Medal from the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Research Australia Lifetime Achievement Award, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Gold Medal and the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research. In 2001, he was made a Companion in the Order of Australia in recognition of his multiple achievements: to the prevention of river blindness, to academia, and to eye health in indigenous communities. In 2013 he was appointed a member of the expert advisory panel of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

The most widely published ophthalmologist in Australia, with over 600 peer-reviewed publications and multiple books, his research and teaching has informed clinical practice and led to the design and delivery of community eye health care programs. His population-based studies in Australia have defined the agenda for eye research and for the implementation of eye care delivery programs for Aboriginal Australians.