Peter J McDonnell, M.D.

Headshot of Peter J McDonnell
  • Director of The Wilmer Eye Institute
  • Professor of Ophthalmology



Research Interests

ophthalmology; cornea/anterior segment disease; corneal disorders; corneal dystrophies; external diseases of the eye; laser surgery; refractive surgery; corneal disease; microbial keratitis; nanotechnology more


The Johns Hopkins Hospital

600 N. Wolfe Street
Wilmer Eye Institute
Baltimore, MD 21287
Phone: 443-287-1511 | Fax: 443-287-1514
The Johns Hopkins Hospital - Google Maps


Peter J. McDonnell, M.D. is the director and William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. An ophthalmologist and specialist in corneal disease and surgery, Dr. McDonnell is an international leader in corneal transplantation, laser refractive surgery and the treatment of dry eye.

Dr. McDonnell received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Dartmouth College. A 1982 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. McDonnell completed a residency in ophthalmology at the Wilmer Institute, followed by a fellowship in Cornea and External Diseases at the Doheny Eye Institute of the University of Southern California. He returned to Johns Hopkins to be Assistant Chief of Service at the Wilmer Institute, before joining the full-time faculty at the University of Southern California, where he advanced to the rank of professor in 1994.

In 1999, he was named the Irving H. Leopold Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of California-Irvine. In 2003, he returned to Johns Hopkins University where he leads the Wilmer Eye Institute as the sixth William Holland Wilmer Professor and Director. The Wilmer Institute is the largest ophthalmology department in the country, with over 130 full-time faculty, and it receives the most research funding. It includes the only designated eye trauma center in the State of Maryland, and last year provided eye care for patients from throughout Maryland, from all 50 states and from 73 foreign countries.

Dr. McDonnell’s research interests include dry eye disease, ocular infection and gene therapy to control corneal wound healing and inflammation. He is the recipient of research grants from the National Eye Institute, Research to Prevent Blindness, and other funding agencies. He has published over 250 scientific articles and holds four patents. The American Academy of Ophthalmology honored him with the Honor Award in 1991 and the Senior Achievement Award in 2001. In 2003, he received the Alcon Research Institute Award. A member of many professional ophthalmology and medical societies, Dr. McDonnell has served on the editorial boards of six ophthalmology journals and is currently Medical Editor of Ophthalmology Times.

In 2013, Dr. McDonnell was elected president of the boards of directors of NAEVR/AEVR (the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research). AEVR is a nonprofit educational foundation, the primary purpose of which is to educate Congress and the public about the value of eye and vision research. NAEVR is a nonprofit affiliate of AEVR and comprises a coalition of 55 professional, consumer and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. more


  • Director of The Wilmer Eye Institute
  • William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Professor of Ophthalmology

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • MD; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1982)


  • Pathology; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1986)


  • Cornea and External Diseases; Doheny Eye Institute (1987)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Ophthalmology (Ophthalmology) (1988)

Research & Publications

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Current Practice in Ophthalmology, editor, Andrew P. Schachat, associate editors, Henry D. Jampel, Peter J. McDonnell, Paul Sternberg, Jr., Neil R. Miller, Mosby, St. Louis, 1992.

Behrens A, McDonnell PJ.  Gene Therapy for the Prevention of Corneal Haze after Photorefractive/Phototherapeutic Keratectomy Excimer Laser Surgery.  Adv Exp med Biol, Theime Medical Publishers, Inc., 2002;506(Pt B): 1315-1321.

Brightbill FS,  McDonnell PJ, McGhee CNJ, Co-Editors: Corneal Surgery – Theory, Technique & Tissue, 4th Edition. Elsevier, Inc., St. Louis, MO. Aug. 2005

Corneal Surgery.  Theory, Technique and Tissue.  4th Edition.  Frederick S. Brightbill, Charles N.J. McGhee, Ayad Farjo, Olivia N. Serdarevic, Mosby Elsevier 2009. 

McDonnell PH, Khan YA, Lai SK, Kashiwabuch RT, Tattiyakul W, Behrens A, Hanes J.  Evaluating intravitreal nanoparticles as a potential new system for the sustained treatment of degenerative and proliferative diseases of the retina.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 51:E-Abstract 432, 2010.

Kashiwabuchi FK, Rodrigues MW, McDonnell PJ: Dry Eye Syndrome in the elderly: Challenges and treatment options. Ophthalmology and the Ageing Society: Essentials in Ophthalmology. Hendrik PN Scholl, Robert W. Massof, Sheila West (eds.). Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013; 127-137.

Cottrell P, Ahmed S, James C, Hodson J, McDonnell PJ, Rauz S, Williams GP: Neuron J is a rapid and reliable open source tool for evaluating corneal nerve density in herpes simplex keratitis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55(11):7312-20, 2014.

Sykakis E, Karim R, Evans JR, Bunce C, Amissah-Arthur KN, Patwary S, McDonnell PJ, Hamada S: Corneal collagen cross-linking for treating keratoconus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Mar 24;3:CD010621

Singh A, Li P, Beachley V, McDonnell P, Elisseeff JH: A hyaluronic acid-binding contact lens with enhanced water retention. Cont Lens Anterior Eye 38(2):79-84, 2015.


Laser Shaping of Ocular Surfaces Using Collagen Gel
Patent # Serial No. 07/850, 726 | 

Laser Shaping of Ocular Surfaces Using Ablation mask formed in Situ
Patent # Serial No. 5-279-611 | 

Topical Compositions for the Eye Composing a Beta-cyclodextrin derivative and a Therapeutic Agent
Patent # Serial No. 5,418,225 | 

Method for Preventing Keratocyte Loss
Patent # Serial No. 5,728,405 | 

Apparatus and method for performing laser thermal keratoplasty with minimized regression
Patent # Serial No. 6,033,396 | 

Ophthalmic Drug Pumps
Patent # Serial No. 9,246.097 | 

System and Method for Quantitative or Qualitative Measurement of Exogenous Substances in Tissue and Other Materials Using Laser-Induced Fluorescence Spectroscopy
Patent # Serial No. 7,336,989 B2 | 

Activities & Honors


  • Honor Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1991 - 1991
  • Wiliam and Mary Greve International Research Scholar Award, Research to Prevent Blindness, 1993 - 1993
  • Research Excellence Award, CIBA Vision Ophthalmics, 1993 - 1993
  • Research Excellence Award, CIBA Vision Ophthalmics, 1994 - 1994
  • The Best Doctors in America, Woodward/White, Inc., 1994 - 1995
  • Best Ophthalmologists in America, Ophthalmology Times, 1996 - 1996
  • The Best Doctors in America: Pacific Region, Woodward/White, Inc., 1996 - 1997
  • Best Doctors in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Magazine, 1996 - 1996
  • Troutman-Veronneau Prize, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, 1997 - 1997
  • Ocular Dry Eye & Surgical Update Award of Appreciation, 2000
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology Senior Achievement Award, 2001
  • Best Doctors of America 2003-2004
  • Alcon Institute Award (2003)
  • Society of Heeds Fellow Award (2005)
  • Top Fifty Opinion Leaders in 2006, Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today
  • America's Top Ophthalmologists (2007)
  • Prof. Moacyr Alvaro Gold Medal for Outstanding Service- XXXI, Congress of Ophthalmology, 2008
  • Doheny Society of Scholars (2008), Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California
  • Chabad-Lubavitch International Johns Hopkins Medicine International Community Service Award (2010)
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award (2010), University of Southern California
  • ARCS Foundation Alumni Hall of Fame, ARCS Foundation, 2019


  • Castroviejo Cornea Society, 1989 - 1995
  • International Society of Refractive Surgery, 1989 - 1997
  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 1983
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1998
  • American Medical Association, 1988
  • International Society of Refractive Surgery, 1988
  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), 1990
  • American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators, 1990
  • Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, 1996
  • American University Professors Ophthalmology, 1999
  • Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons (2002-present)
  • Research to Prevent Blindness, 2004
  • Catarata-Refrativa, 2011
  • Oftalmologia Em Foco, 2011

Professional Activities

  • Executive Committee, ASCRS, Young Physicians and Residents Special Interest Group, 2000 - 2007
  • Board of Directors, Tissue Banks International, 2003 - 2012
  • Board of Directors, Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons, 2003 - 2012
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Refractive Surgery (formerly Refractive and Corneal Surgery), 1991
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, 1995
  • Member, Editorial Board of Case Studies with the Masters, Ophthalmic Surgery, Mosby's CD-Rom Series, 1996
  • Chief Medical Editor, Therapeutic Updates in Ophthalmology, 1997
  • Member, Editorial Board, Clinical Signs in Ophthalmology, 1998
  • Ad Hoc Committee, Grant Review, Research to Prevent Blindness, 2000
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Eyenet Magazine, 2000
  • National Medical & Scientific Advisory Committee, Tissue Bank International, 2001
  • Chief Medical Editor, Ophthalmology Times, 2004
  • Scientific Advisory Committee, Alcon Research Institute, 2006
  • Board of Directors, American Brazilian Ophthalmological Association, 2010
  • Board Member, Doheny Eye Institute, 2011
  • Elected International President, American Brazilian Ophthalmological Association, 2012
  • Board of Directors, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research/Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR/AEVR), 2012
  • Elected President, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research/Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR/AEVR), 2013
  • Board of Directors, Allergan, Inc., 2013
  • Board of Directors, Actavis, 2015

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • "Refractive Surprises: A New Epidemic;" "Excimer PRK: What is the State-of-the-Art?” (1997)
    Feldman Lecture, Baltimore, Maryland
    Kreiger Eye Institute
  • "Current Challenges in LASIK" (1999)
    Edward W. Purnell Lecture, 17th Annual CME Meeting, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
  • "The Refractive Surgery Explosion: Corneal Molding or Meddling?"(2000)
    Edward Berk Annual Lecture, Orange, CA
    Association of the Voluntary Clinical Faculty
  • “Measuring the Effects of Refractive Surgery.” (2001)
    Ronald G. Michels Lecture, Baltimore, MD
  • “An Unseen Epidemic: Rethinking Sutureless Cataract Surgery.” (2004)
    The Arthur Gerard Devoe, M.D. Lectureship, New York City
  • “Infection folling cataract & refractive surgery; new insights.” (2004)
    David Paton Medal Lecture, Houston, TX
  • Joseph M. Bryan Research Lecture (2006), Durham, NC
    Duke University
  • Lois A. Young, M.D. Memorial Lecturer (2006), Washington DC
    Howard University
  • Kayes Lecture in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (2008), St. Louis, MO
    Washington University School of Medicine
  • Harvey Thorpe Lecture (2009)
    University of Pittsburgh
  • Sigmund Schutz Lecture (2009)
    New York University
  • Keynote Speaker (2009), Pan-American Research Day, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • SEIOUS-deNatal Lecture (2009), Natal, Brazil
  • Guest Speaker (2011), Endophthalmitis Symposium, Delhi, India
  • Dhanvantari Lectureship (2011), Hyderabad, India
    Goutami Eye Institute
  • Helen Keller Lecture (2012)
    University of Alabama
  • Randy Campo Memorial Lecture (2012)
    University of Miami

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Celebrating Black History Month at Wilmer, Johns Hopkins Medicine (Feb. 2021)

Tele-ophthalmology Takes Hold, Johns Hopkins Medicine (Nov. 2020)

COVID-19: Should ophthalmologists prepare for a second surge?, Ophthalmology Times (Jun. 2020)

Dr. Peter J. McDonnell Named to ARCS Foundation Alumni Hall of Fame, ARCS (Feb 2019)

Save Your Eyesight: Why More Americans Are Going Blind Each Year, and What Can Be Done About It, AARP (Jan. 2017)

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