Friday, March 02, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday to the Swan

It seems that I have been remiss; I have forgotten a very important date: the lovely Swan's birthday. On January 1, 2012, Kenneth Carl Swan would have turned 100.

He was known for his many accomplishments and for this, this very important date should not be forgotten:

  • Dr. K. C. Swan was the father of ophthalmology in Oregon.

  • He graduated from the University of Oregon Medical School in 1936 where he won a Rockefeller Student Research assistantship in pharmacology. Continuing his studies at the University of Wisconsin he made the decision to change his specialty to ophthalmology.

  • He married a Portland native and they moved so that he could study and serve on the faculty at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. A very important note is that he moved back to Portland where he was raised.

  • In 1945, he founded the first full-time department of ophthalmology in the Pacific Northwest at UOMS and became the school's first full-time clinical professor. He chaired the department until his retirement in 1978.

  • Swan also began the first three–year residency program in ophthalmology in the Pacific Northwest.

  • During the 1930's and 1940's, he conducted research that led to the creation of new drugs, for which he became internationally known, including the artificial tear, methylcellulose.

  • His partnership with Dr. Leonard Christensen led to the development of the world's first microscope for ocular surgery, his role in the development of new therapies for childhood glaucoma, binocular vision disorders and traumatic eye wounds and the Swan-White compound whose derivatives are still used in eye examinations today.

  • In 1949, with the generous contributions from the Oregon State Elks, he was able to establish the first children’s eye clinic in an academic setting in the United States.

  • During the 1980's, Swan partnered with Fredrick Fraunfelder, MD, who also succeeded Dr. Swan as chair of the department, to raise OHSU's first significant capital campaign, a $31 million effort to construct the Casey Eye Institute, which brought ophthalmic education, research and treatment into one center. In 2000-2006, he also helped to raise $16 million to advance Casey during OHSU's Oregon Opportunity campaign.

What else you ask?


  • A respected and beloved physician and colleague, he was a teacher and mentor to more than 100 ophthalmologists, six of whom went on to chair departments at US medical schools.

  • He was a member of many associations and a recipient of numerous awards and certificates, including the American Ophthalmological Society's prestigious award, the Howe Medal for distinguished service. At the time, Dr. Swan was only the 44th recipient in the Society's 112 year history.

  • He received the Proctor Medal from the Association for Research in Ophthalmology and was also named the Governor's Scientist for Oregon.

  • In addition, he received the UOMS Alumni Meritorious Achievement award, the highest honor granted by the school.

  • Dr. Swan continued to see patients and published papers into the 1990s. He died at the age of 95 on February 23, 2007, following his wife by just two months.

So a very happy belated birthday to someone who changed the study and practice of ophthalmology in Oregon.

His many patients and collegues miss him yet today.

If you would like to know more about Dr. Swan, the OHSU Historical Collections has a significant collection of his papers and artifacts. http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/library/about/collections/historical-collections-archives/collections-archives/upload/2007-011_swan-kenneth-c_atguide.pdf

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New acquisitions: Opthalmology books

I posted last week about material we received from Casey Eye Institute and the estate of Dr. Kenneth Swan. This included lots of books that I started reviewing last week. There are some reprints of classic titles that will find a home in the library's circulating collection, as well as several titles that I've selected for HC&A:




Duane, Alexander. A New Classification of the Motor Anomalies of the Eye Based Upon Physiological Principles; Together with Their Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment. New York: Vail, 1897.

Landolt, E. A Manual of Examination of the Eyes. A Course of Lectures Delivered at the "Ecole Pratique,". Philadelphia: D. G. Brinton, 1879.

Morton, A. Stanford. Refraction of the Eye: Its Diagnosis and the Correction of Its Errors with Chapter on Keratoscopy. Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1881.

Schell, Henry S. A Manual of Ophthalmic Practice. Philadelphia: Brinton, 1881.

Smith, Priestley. On the Pathology and Treatment of Glaucoma. London: J. and A. Churchill, 1891.


These and other historic ophthalmology titles will be cataloged for the History of Medicine collection, and available for research in HC&A.