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1970-1986: Dr. Matthew Dinsdale (Dinny) Davis

DR. MATTHEW DINSDALE DAVIS

1970-1986: Dr. Matthew Dinsdale (Dinny) Davis

In 1969, Dr. Matthew D. Davis takes the helm as full-time Chairman of the Section of Ophthalmology. Dr. Davis, known affectionately as Dinny Davis, is instrumental in elevating the Ophthalmology Service to department status and in 1970, the Department of Ophthalmology is established as a standalone department within the UW Medical School.

During Dinny Davis’s tenure, the department continues to add sub-specialty training programs, starting with pediatrics service in 1971, and corneal and anterior segment service in 1972. Dr. Peter A. Duehr becomes professor emeritus in 1973 and retires from practice in 1978 at 88 years old.

Under Dinny Davis’s leadership, the Department continues to move upward and outward. In 1979, Dr. Guillermo de Venecia and his wife, nurse Marta de Venecia, establish the Free Rural Eye Clinic (FREC) in the Philippines to provide cataract surgery and other ophthalmologic care to indigent patients. In 1980, Professors Barbara Klein, MD, MPH and Ronald Klein, MD, MPH begin their large-scale epidemiological study with the cooperation of 452 physicians in southwestern Wisconsin. The Kleins began their study with a van equipped as an eye clinic to examine diabetic patients and take retinal photos. The sample set consists of 2,370 of the 10,000 diabetic patients receiving care in an 11 county area of southwestern Wisconsin. In 1984, the follow-up phase to their study begins, as they continue to track the duration of diabetes, the frequency of retinopathy, and other genetic factors. The same year, Dr. Suresh Chandra, MD establishes the Combat Blindness Foundation after a teaching trip to India to end preventable blindness all over the world, namely through basic cataract surgery. In 1985, The University Hospital introduces its first helicopter to better serve emergency care patients, and Frederick J. Davis retires from medical practice.

Dr. Guillermo de Venecia

Guillermo de Venecia

Dinny Davis’s major and enduring contributions to ophthalmology include pioneering collaborative multi-centered clinical trials, and establishing the first ophthalmic photographic reading center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

DR. MATTHEW DINSDALE DAVIS