Dr. Ian M MacDonald

Department of Medical Genetics
    Contact details are for academic matters only.

About Me

Ian M. MacDonald MSc, MD CM is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Alberta and past Chair of the Department for 20 years. Prior to becoming Chair in Edmonton, in 1992, he was a Career Scientist of the Ontario Ministry of Health at the University of Ottawa. From 2007-2008, he was Branch Chief of Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function at the National Eye Institute of the NIH. Dr. MacDonald completed residency training in Family Medicine at McGill University, Montreal, Ophthalmology residency training at the University of Ottawa and Clinical Genetics fellowship training at the University of Ottawa, Queen's University, Kingston and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. He is an Editor Emeritus of the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology and currently serves on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Ophthalmology for Genetics.

Dr. MacDonald's areas of interest are inherited ocular disorders, in particular, maculopathies and choroideremia. In 2009, in recognition of his work in Canada to foster the development of academic Ophthalmology, he was elected as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.


I hold weekly ocular genetics clinics that engage residents (Ophthalmology and Medical Genetics and others) in direct patient contact. A structured clinic that includes a genetic counselor allows the student to appreciate the management of patients and families with heritable ocular traits, including investigation (imaging, electrophysiology, etc.), interpretation of results (including clinical genetic testing) and genetic counseling.

In the laboratory, graduate students generally take on projects of their interest but all related in some way to ocular genetics. Depending on the interest of students, I organise a graduate level course (3 credits) in ocular genetics with the assistance of some colleagues in Alberta Vision Net. The course has run for a number of years and includes, didactic sessions supplemented by discussion of current literature and provides a comprehensive overview of the subject.


My laboratory is devoted to translational research on heritable ocular disorders. As part of pre-clinical research studies, we are focused on the characterization of the genetic basis of retinal disorders through molecular genetic techniques. Further, the laboratory is engaged in pre-clinical and clinical studies of ocular gene therapy.

Research Keywords

choroideremia, Goldmann visual field, Natural history, Ocular genetics, perimetry, retinitis pigmentosa, VEP

Team Members

Lab Team: Lisa Trottier, lab secretary; Rita Whitford, research co-ordinator; Alina Radziwon, technician; Lance Doucette, Research Associate; Fay Zhai, post-doctoral fellow; Matthew Benson, MSc student; Geoff Casey, MSc student; Nicole Noel, PhD student

Alberta Ocular Gene Therapy Team: Matthew Tennant (vitreo-retinal surgeon), Riz Somani (vitreo-retinal surgeon)