Harvey Birsner, MD Bequest Endows Chair in Neuro-Ophthalmology

July 20, 2014

Dr. Harvey Birsner style=

Dr. Harvey Birsner


Before his death last year, Harvey Birsner, MD, named UC San Francisco a beneficiary of his estate. His nearly $1 million endowment will be used to establish a chair in neuro-ophthalmology and for scholarships in the School of Medicine.

“Harvey was a remarkably talented neurosurgeon and an outstanding alumnus of the UCSF School of Medicine,” says Stephen D. McLeod, MD, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. “He will be remembered in perpetuity through the research and teaching of the chair holders and by the students whoare among the next generation of physician leaders.”

In 1970, when William F. Hoyt, MD, accepted Dr. Birsner as a UCSF neuro-ophthalmology fellow, he stipulated one condition: he had to read all three volumes of Walsh & Hoyt’s Clinical Neuro-Ophthalmology before he began training.

“Harvey knew a great deal about neurosurgery at the time, but not as much about the eye,” explains emeritus professor Dr. Hoyt, a world-renowned neuro-ophthalmology teacher and scholar. Dr. Birsner had earned his medical degree at the UCSF School of Medicine.

In 1972, he became the first neurosurgeon at Antelope Valley Hospital outside Los Angeles. In his near 30-year career there, his appointments included chief of surgery, chief of medical staff, and chairman of the board. Whenever the opportunity arose, he advised neurosurgeons to examine patients’ eyes and fields of vision as a way to diagnose neurological disease.

Special thanks to UCSF’s Susan Godstone for her research and writing contributions.