History of the Lowe & Gillies Lecture

The W.E. Gillies Medal

Dr William (Bill) Elliott Gillies commenced ophthalmology when he started as a Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in 1952. He obtained the Diploma of Ophthalmology of The University of Melbourne in 1953, and after some years at Moorfields Glaucoma Clinic he returned to Melbourne in 1958.
By 1966 he was Ophthalmologist in charge of a General Eye Clinic at the RVEEH, which position he held for 25 years. He was ophthalmologist in (1962 to 1972) and then ophthalmologist in charge of (1972-1991) the Glaucoma Investigation and Research Unit at the RVEEH, and in 1991 he became Emeritus Ophthalmologist to the Hospital.
In 1988 he established the Australian and New Zealand Glaucoma Club – now the Australian and New Zealand Glaucoma Interest Group – as the College’s first special interest group. He aimed to bring together those interested in glaucoma on the basis of equality and informality. He was Chair of the Club from 1988 until 2005. The Glaucoma Interest Group established the Gillies Lecture in 2006 to recognise his contribution to the study of glaucoma in Australia, and his role in establishing the Group.
He was a member of the Committee of Management of the RVEEH and served for many years on its Research and Ethics Committee, the Theatre Advisory Committee and numerous other committees. He was a director and then secretary of the Eye Ear Nose and Throat Research Institute from 1995 to its cessation in 2005. He held weekly special teaching clinics for registrars on his general eye clinic at the RVEEH for 33 years.
He also founded the Melbourne Ophthalmic Alumni in 1991, bringing ophthalmologists from across Melbourne to regular clinical meetings at the RVEEH. He also founded the Australian and New Zealand Squint Club in 1991, and was active in developing the orthoptic profession in Australia.
Bill was a brilliant observer and clinician. He pioneered iris angiography at the RVEEH and this work was the basis for his 1995 Council Lecture entitled “Disorders in Perfusion of the Anterior Segment of the Eye”. He had a special interest in glaucoma, in particular pseudoexfoliation of the lens capsule.
He has over 100 publications in refereed journals.
He was Chairman of the Australian Trachoma Committee of the College, a member of its Medicolegal Special Interest Group, and a Council member of the Victorian State Branch of the Australian Medical Association for many years. He was an examiner for the College’s Part 2 examinations for many years. In 1998-9 he was President of the College.
It was therefore not surprising that in 2003 he was awarded an OAM, the Medal of the Order of Australia, for his contribution to ophthalmology in Australia, and in 2006 he was awarded the Medal of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists for distinguished, meritorious and selfless service.