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Dr Donald Tan is an ophthalmologist practising at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Singapore.
He subspecialises in corneal surgery, focusing on newer forms of corneal transplantation.
Dr Tan was a founding doctor of the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), and went on to become its medical director from 2008 – 2014. He was also the director of the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) from 2000 –2008, and head of the department of ophthalmology at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, from 2001, where he continues to be a fully tenured professor.
He is an adjunct professor in ophthalmology at Duke-NUS Medical School, and an adjunct professor (honorary) at Nanyang Technological University.
In the field of corneal and external diseases, Dr Tan has made major contributions to the development of new techniques in corneal transplantation and corneal refractive surgery, with over 2 decades of experience.
He has introduced new forms of corneal transplantation such as deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK), descemets stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK), and descemets membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), and developed new surgical instrumentation for these operations which have transformed the success of corneal transplants.
He has led the Singapore Eye Bank as its medical director since 1993.
In the field of ocular surface disease, Dr Tan paved the way for the conjunctival autograft procedure for pterygium, ocular surface stem cell transplantation, and artificial cornea surgery in the form of the ‘tooth-in-eye’ OOKP (osteo-odonto keratoprosthesis) procedure for the most severe end-stage corneal diseases.
In the field of refractive surgery, he introduced the ReLEx SMILE procedure as an alternative to LASIK surgery for the treatment of myopia and astigmatism. Dr Tan also developed low-dose atropine eye drops used for myopia control in children.
In 2014, Dr Tan was named as the 3rd most influential ophthalmologist on the UK-based Ophthalmologist’s Power List.
Dr Tan has trained 32 corneal transplant surgeons over the last 2 decades, which includes corneal surgeons from 13 countries, and 13 local corneal surgeons. He continues to hold advanced corneal transplantation courses in SNEC, and has trained over 70 surgeons globally to perform the newer forms of corneal lamellar transplants.
As a clinician scientist, Dr Tan is the lead investigator of 2 back-to-back S$25 million National Research Foundation Translational Clinical Research Flagship Grants to develop new therapies in cornea, refractive surgery and glaucoma.
As the immediate past chairman of SERI, as well as the immediate past chairman of the National Medical Research Council, Dr Tan has published over 350 peer-reviewed scientific articles, contributed 18 book chapters, and holds 12 patents in the fields of corneal, refractive surgery and myopia.
He is the recipient of over 20 local and international awards, including the Minister for Health 2006 Award for Outstanding Performance in Public Health, the National Outstanding Clinician Scientist National Medical Excellence Award in 2008, the President’s Science Award in 2009, the SingHealth Excellence Distinguished (Visionary) Leader Award, and the NUS Medical Faculty Research Excellence Award in 2011.
Dr Tan is the founding and current President of the Asia Cornea Society, and the founding and current chair of the Association of Eye Banks of Asia.
Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Singapore
Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow
Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, UK
Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, UK
Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore