Department of Ophthalmology expands leadership team to help achieve bold goals

Dr. Andreas Lauer appointed chair; Dr. David Wilson continues as Casey Eye Institute director, with Dr. Michael Chiang becoming new associate director

Aug. 22, 2018

In Oregon and especially at OHSU, the Casey Eye Institute is synonymous with excellent ophthalmology care, research and training. Since Casey's founding in 1991, the person in the role of institute director and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in the OHSU School of Medicine have been one and the same. 

Casey Eye InstituteNow, department leaders and School of Medicine Dean Sharon Anderson have created a team approach for these considerable responsibilities. This approach will help achieve Casey's bold goal to eliminate preventable blindness in Oregon and beyond, and support Casey's collaboration with the Oregon State Elks, which recently pledged $20 million for a 60,000 square-foot building that will be named the Oregon Elks Children's Eye Clinic.

Dean Sharon Anderson has appointed Andreas Lauer, M.D. R '99 F '01, to the role of chair in the Department of Ophthalmology, effective Sept. 4. Dr. Lauer, Kenneth C. Swan Professor of Ophthalmology, OHSU School of Medicine, is also chief of the retina-vitreous division in Casey Eye Institute, and one of three physicians and surgeons there who are experts in gene therapy for the treatment of retinal diseases.

Dr. David Wilson, director of Casey Eye Institute

David Wilson, M.D. R '85, will step down as chair and remain director of Casey Eye Institute. He has served as the Margaret Thiele Petti and August Petti Chair of Ophthalmology and director of Casey since 2005. At the same time, Michael Chiang, M.D., Knowles Professor of Ophthalmology, will fill a new role as associate director of Casey Eye Institute. This leadership position recognizes Dr. Chiang's preeminence in harnessing big data to address scientific questions and find tomorrow's cures.

"Dr. Lauer and Dr. Chiang have demonstrated leadership throughout their academic, research and clinical careers, on a local and national level," said Dr. Wilson. "I have also seen them demonstrate the commitment and personal integrity it takes for the Casey Eye Institute to continue to excel well into the future. I look forward to working together to achieve our goals."

Under Dr. Wilson's leadership, Casey Eye Institute has continued its longtime reputation for outstanding patient care and become an international leader in gene therapy for eye disease and in ophthalmic imaging systems such as optical coherence tomography. He has also overseen expansion in the department's community outreach – which includes vision screenings for low income, uninsured and underinsured Oregonians, and for preschool children – and international training programs. This growth has come in tandem with successful philanthropic partnerships, most notably the Oregon State Elks. 

"Dr. Wilson has been an effective leader for ophthalmology for over a decade, and I am grateful that the school will continue to benefit from his experience as director of Casey," said Dean Anderson. "It is an exciting time for Casey Eye Institute, and we have the right leaders on board to ensure their continued success."

Finding the next chair of ophthalmology

Dr. Andreas Lauer, incoming chair of ophthalmologyEarlier this year, then-President Joe Robertson and Dean Anderson worked with Dr. Wilson to conduct an internal search for his successor, including faculty input. Dr. Lauer's established leadership skills and deep knowledge and expertise across the department's missions made him the top choice.

Dr. Lauer earned his medical degree and did a yearlong internship in internal medicine at the University of Oklahoma. He joined OHSU in 1995 as a resident in ophthalmology, became chief resident in 1998 and completed his retina-vitreous fellowship here three years later. He joined the faculty in 2001 and has served the department in many ways, including as director of the residency program and retina fellowship, and as vice chair for education.

Dr. Lauer and colleagues lead life-changing clinical trials, in an effort to treat untreatable causes of blindness. He is currently principal or co-investigator on more than 30 studies and trials, several involving age-related macular degeneration. He led OHSU's participation as one of 88 study sites comparing drug treatments for diabetic macular edema – one of the most worrisome complications for diabetic patients.

He is a director for the American Board of Ophthalmology and serves as chair of Maintenance of Certification. He is a member of numerous professional societies, and a sought-after expert in the media and for medical education. He is an American Academy of Ophthalmology representative for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and current vice chair for the national ophthalmology Review Committee. Dr. Lauer supervises residents and fellows in retina surgery and participates in their professional development through conferences and oral presentations. He is also an advisor to medical students, helping to foster tomorrow's trainees.

Dr. Chiang brings informatics expertise to new associate director role

Dr. Michael Chiang, associate director of Casey Eye InstituteThroughout his career, Dr. Chiang has recognized the transformational power of technology and big data to improve human health. He and colleagues have found, for example, that accurately detecting a rare but devastating cause of blindness in premature babies can be done as effectively with telemedicine as with traditional, in-person eye exams. 

Dr. Chiang's research has been continuously NIH-funded since 2003; in addition to telemedicine, he studies applications of telemedicine, clinical information systems, computer-based image analysis, and genotype-phenotype correlation to improve delivery of health care. His international expertise in this area is reflected in his positions as Executive Committee member and chair of the Data Analytics Committee for the IRIS Registry, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) database of clinical data – the largest such database in the world. Dr. Chiang is also a trustee of the AAO, and the only OHSU faculty member ever to serve in this capacity.

Dr. Chiang received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. He received an M.A. in Biomedical Informatics from Columbia University, where he was an NLM fellow in biomedical informatics. He completed residency and pediatric ophthalmology fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. He joined OHSU in 2010, after nine years at Columbia University. Dr. Chiang, who has a joint appointment in the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, is board-certified in clinical informatics, and is an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics. 

Dr. Chiang directs an NIH-funded T32 training program in visual science for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at OHSU, and helped OHSU obtain and now directs an NIH-funded K12 mentored clinician-scientist program in ophthalmology (with John Morrison, M.D. '77 R '85 F '86, professor of ophthalmology, OHSU School of Medicine).