Stephen D. McLeod, MD, Becomes the Next CEO of American Academy of Ophthalmology

October 13, 2021

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) board of trustees today announced the unanimous selection of Stephen D. McLeod, M.D., as the Academy’s next Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Dr. McLeod is currently the Theresa M. and Wayne M. Caygill, M.D., Distinguished Professor and Chair of the University of California San Francisco Department of Ophthalmology (UCSF). He will take over for David W. Parke II, MD. on February 1, 2021.

“David has been an incredible leader and the Academy is thriving; I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the Academy and such an inspirational group of colleagues that is our profession,” said Dr. McLeod.

Dr. McLeod is the director of UCSF's research, teaching, and patient care program, which has a $40 million yearly budget and 250 people, including 59 clinicians and scientists.

Under his leadership, the department increased clinical care visits by more than a quarter, tripled research funding, and completed a $200 million capital and research base expansion initiative. The research program was the number one recipient of National Eye Institute (NEI) funds for the last three years running.

Dr. McLeod has a long history of service to the Academy, beginning as a member of the Preferred Practice Patterns Committee, a group of experts that develop guidelines that serve as the gold standard for eye care. He eventually became the committee's chairman.

He was also the secretary for Quality of Care and is currently the editor-in-chief of Ophthalmology, the most widely read clinical publication in the ophthalmology specialty. Since 2017, he has been a member of the Board of Trustees.

"With his experience as chair of a highly competitive academic department and editor of the Academy's flagship peer-reviewed journal, Ophthalmology, Stephen brings critical experience and vision to the role of Academy CEO and is our enthusiastic choice to lead organized ophthalmology in 2022 and beyond," said Tamara R. Fountain, MD, president of the Academy.

Dr. McLeod is a cornea and external disease specialist who also performs cataract and refractive surgery. His study focuses on the design and implementation of randomized clinical trials to improve corneal infection diagnosis and treatment around the world.

He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Ophthalmology and is currently on the Council of the American Ophthalmological Society, demonstrating his dedication to his profession.

He is a former chair of the FDA's Ophthalmic Devices panel and a former member of the National Eye Advisory Council, which advised the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Eye Institute on all policies and activities relating to vision research, training, and other institute programs.

Dr. McLeod was a resident, assistant professor, and then director of refractive surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary before coming to UCSF. He got his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University and worked as a fellow at the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles. Dartmouth College awarded him his bachelor's degree.

The CEO is the highest staff position for the Academy, leading more than 200 employees and managing an annual budget of $62 million. The CEO must be an active or life fellow of the Academy; have an active, unrestricted license to practice medicine; and have experience in leadership and organizational management.

In April, Dr. Parke announced his intention to step down after 12 years in the role. A committee chaired by Academy past-president Anne L. Coleman, M.D., Ph.D., then directed a national search for Dr. Parke’s successor.

“I’m incredibly excited that Stephen will be the Academy’s next CEO,” said Dr. Parke. “He is widely recognized as a leader in academic ophthalmology and as a gifted teacher, and I’ve also been delighted to partner with him on issues of advocacy at the state and federal level. His business management expertise has been highlighted as he directed the development and operation of a beautiful new eye institute. All ophthalmologists will be fortunate to have Dr. McLeod at the Academy’s helm.”