Ian M MacDonald, MSc, MD CM

Term Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry - Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Science

Pronouns: He, him


Term Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry - Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Science

8AM-5PM generally Mon - Wed - Fri


Area of Study / Keywords

Ocular genetics gene therapy inherited retinal dystrophies choroideremia


I am an ophthalmologist and clinical geneticist. After completing my academic training, I began my professional career in Ottawa as an Ontario Ministry of Health Career Scientist. I moved to the University of Alberta in 1992 and served three terms as the Department Chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. For two years (2007-8) I served as Branch Chief, Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function at the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD before returning for an extended fourth term as Chair of the Department. While now Emeritus Professor, I continue to work full time in clinical practice, teaching and research.


My research interests are in heritable ocular disorders. With funding from CFI, CIHR, Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions, Fighting Blindness Canada and the Choroideremia Research Foundation Canada, Inc., I organized a team of researchers and clinicians that completed the first investigator-sponsored trial of ocular gene therapy in Canada. We are grateful for the gracious support of Prof. Robert MacLaren of Oxford University in that effort. The Laboratory continues to study the immune mechanisms that are triggered in viral vector-mediated gene therapies. We continue to broaden out understanding of the genetics of choroideremia and appraise clinical outcome measures of gene therapy. My two current projects on choroideremia involve antisense oligonucleotide suppression and a synonymous variant in the CHM gene that has variable effects in two siblings. Unfunded research in my lab is investigating a novel variant in the PIKfyve gene that results in a multisystem disorder.


Clinical teaching occurs in conjunction with an Ocular Genetics clinic. With several colleagues linked the Alberta Vision Net and a senior PhD candidate, I organize and teach a graduate level course in Ocular Genetics. My current laboratory has one graduate students working on immune responses to cell models (retinal pigment epithelium and microglia).


At the annual meeting of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (2021), I received a Lifetime Achievement award. In the fall of 2021, I gave the Franceschetti Lecture to the International Society for Genetic Eye Disease and Retinoblastoma at their meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.


OPHTH 601 - Ocular Genetics

This course provides a comprehensive overview of various aspects of eye genetics including both basic science studies and clinical conditions. Clinical case studies and their investigation will form part of the course. Offered in alternate years. Format includes didactic lectures supplemented by brief student presentations and guest speakers. Grades are assigned according to participation and a final exam. Prerequisite: Familiarity with medical genetics and ophthalmology and the consent of the Department.

Browse more courses taught by Ian M MacDonald


Progressive Photoreceptor Dysfunction and Age-Related Macular Degeneration-Like Features in rp1l1 Mutant Zebrafish

Author(s): Noel NCL, Nadolski NJ, Hocking JC, MacDonald IM, Allison WT
Publication Date: 9/30/2020
Publication: On line
Volume: 9
Issue: 10
Page Numbers: 2214
External Link: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/9/10/2214

Quantification of RPE Changes in Choroideremia Using a Photoshop-Based Method.

Author(s): Zhai Y, Xu M, Dimopoulos IS, Birch DG, Bernstein PS, Holt J, Kirn D, Francis P, MacDonald IM
Publication Date: 6/18/2020
Publication: On line
Volume: 9
Issue: 7
Page Numbers: 21
External Link: https://doi-org.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/10.1167/tvst.9.7.21