Established in 1925 by Henry and Aida Root Breckenridge and the Wilmer Foundation in honor of William Holland Wilmer

Image Credit: Alan M. Chesney Archives, Johns Hopkins Medicine WILLIAM H. WILMER, the first director of the Department of Ophthalmology, had a distinguished career at Georgetown University and a flourishing private practice in the nation's capital before coming to Hopkins in 1925. He was considered among the preeminent ophthalmologists of his day, treating presidents, Supreme Court justices, and senators. After lending his skills in medicine, teaching, and organization to the Wilmer Eye Institute for nine years, Dr. Wilmer retired in 1934 at the age of 72.


Image Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wilmer Eye Institute AIDA ROOT, a Washington, DC, patient of Dr. Wilmer, was so impressed by his clinical skill that she launched a fund drive to create the William Holland Wilmer Foundation to support his research and practice. At the foundation's incorporation in 1922, she and her future husband, HENRY BRECKENRIDGE, both were board members. The foundation joined with Hopkins to create the Wilmer Eye Institute when Dr. Wilmer joined the Johns Hopkins faculty.


PETER J. McDONNELL, Med 1982, the William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology, is director of the Wilmer Eye Institute. After graduating from the School of Medicine, he stayed at Hopkins as an intern in pathology and emergency medicine, and as a resident in ophthalmology, eventually serving as chief resident/assistant chief of Wilmer. Known for his expertise in diseases of the cornea and refractive surgery, Dr. McDonnell was the first physician to use excimer ("cool") lasers in the treatment of astigmatism in the 1990s. His research interests include surgical correction of refractive error, gene therapy for corneal wound healing, and inflammation of the cornea. Dr. McDonnell holds four patents, including two for laser surgery techniques. Ophthalmology Times named him one of the best ophthalmologists in America. Dr. McDonnell is the chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times and is a consultant to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. He serves on national committees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Society of Refractive Surgery and Tissue Bank International.