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Biographical entry Jones, Barrie Russell (1921 - 2009)

CBE; FRCS 1955; BSc New Zealand 1942; MB BChir NZ 1947; DO 1953; Hon FRACS 1972; MRCP 1974; FRCP 1977; Hon FRACO 1984.

4 January 1921
Silverstream, New Zealand
19 August 2009


Barrie Russell Jones was professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of London. He was born at Silverstream, near Wellington, New Zealand, on 4 January 1921. He obtained a degree in natural sciences from Victoria University, Wellington, before studying medicine at the University of Otago, Dunedin, qualifying in 1947. His early clinical training was in Wellington, but in 1950 he returned to Dunedin as a registrar in ophthalmology, where he trained under Rowland Wilson, who had done important research on trachoma.

He went to London in 1951 to study for a PhD, at that time planning to return to Dunedin, but he was appointed to a training post at Moorfields Eye Hospital and then to a research post at the Institute of Ophthalmology. He was professor of clinical ophthalmology in the University of London from 1963 to 1980 based at the Institute, with the clinical component at Moorfields. At Moorfields he made fundamental changes to clinical practice, insisting that all trainees use the operating microscope and encouraging sub-specialisation. His own interests were in the micro-surgery of the lacrimal system and surgery to the eyelids often deformed by trachoma.

His aim was always to make a major contribution to the eradication of preventable blindness throughout the world and in 1981 the International Centre for Eye Health was opened with Barrie Jones as the first director. The Centre is now based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, with training centres in Africa, India and America. He retired in 1986.

He gave many prestigious lectures and received many honours, including the CBE, the Gonin medal, the King Feisal International prize in medicine and the global achievement award from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. He was immensely respected by all.

He was supported by his wife, Pauline, who accompanied him on many field trips when he was studying eye diseases resulting from infection, particularly those caused by chlamydia. In 2002 they finally returned to New Zealand. Barrie Jones died from pneumonia on 19 August 2009 and was survived by his wife Pauline, a daughter, Jenny, and three sons, Graham, Andrew and Peter.

Enid Taylor

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2009 339 3543].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England