Mark A. Terry, MD
Dr. Terry has been the Director of Corneal Services at the Devers Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon since 1990. He received his undergraduate degree at Yale and his medical degree at St. Louis University. Dr. Terry performed his residency in Ophthalmology in San Francisco. He completed his Corneal Fellowship in 1985 at the University of Oklahoma. Since that time Dr. Terry has limited his referral practice to the subspecialty of Cornea, Anterior Segment and Refractive Surgery. He has been the Medical Director of the Lions Eye Bank of Oregon since 1990 and is also the Scientific Director of the Lions Vision Research Laboratory of Oregon.
Dr. Terry has lectured internationally and widely published his research work in the areas of corneal transplantation, corneal physiology, refractive surgery, dry eye and endophthalmitis. In March of 2000 he began the first U.S. clinical series of Deep Lamellar Endothelial Keratoplasty (DLEK), a technique of replacing the malfunctioning endothelium without surface corneal incisions or sutures. His prospective study of DLEK is now the largest series in the world. He is the founder of the international Endothelial Keratoplasty Group (EKG), which has begun a multi-site, international investigation of this procedure.
I grew up in San Francisco, the fourth child of eight of a pediatrician father and an angel mother. San Francisco in the 60’s was a lot like Portland is now, a small enough town that you actually could run into people you knew downtown and feel safe alone, even in your pre-teen years. I wasn’t quite old enough to be a real “hippie” in the 60’s, but I do feel some familiarity of that time when I visit Eugene, Oregon even today.
Nearly all of my five sisters and two brothers went to either Santa Clara University or to U.C. Berkeley, but after I graduated from a Jesuit high school (St. Ignatius), rather than stay in California, I wanted to break away from California and experience the intrigue of the East Coast, so I chose to go to Yale. Actually, I mainly went to Yale because they recruited me to play Division 1 Basketball, and even though they don’t give athletic scholarship money in the Ivy League, basketball was my life back then, and Yale seemed a good match. I worked weekends, summers and Christmas vacations driving a delivery truck to pay the tuition and board at college that wasn’t covered by bank loans. My intercollegiate basketball career ended my Junior year at Yale when I met a girl that required more time and energy than basketball, but the relationship at the time seemed more rewarding than a well executed jump shot. She was the first love of my life and she went on years later to marry my roommate and best friend at Yale, Carl Camrus, who became a very famous glaucoma specialist, inventing the drug latanoprost and creating an entire new area of glaucoma therapy. Carl died a few years ago and I miss him terribly.
I attended my father’s alma mater, St Louis University School of Medicine, and wanted to become a cardiac surgeon or an OB/GYN before I did my rotation in Ophthalmology. From that moment on, all I wanted was to be an eye surgeon. There was a slight delay in my plans for residency because in order to pay for Medical School, I had to get a military scholarship, and for me that meant joining the Navy. So after medical school, I did a Navy Surgical Internship at the Naval Regional Medical Center, Oakland, California.
The Navy then required me to spend a year as a general doctor with the U.S. Marine Corp in Japan and the Far East before I could enter my Ophthalmology residency training back again in Oakland. After my residency, I did a civilian fellowship in Cornea and External Disease at the University of Oklahoma for a year, then back to the Navy for two final years of service, doing a couple hundred corneal transplants and related subspecialty work at academic programs on the West Coast. After the Navy obligation, I got my first real job at the U of Oklahoma as the young associate of my fellowship mentor, Jim Rowsey. I was going to stay in Oklahoma for my career until my plans were turned upside-down.
I met a girl. Her name was Cindy and she was from this place called Portland, Oregon that wasn’t even on my radar screen. She was the most interesting, intelligent and loving person I had ever met, and she still holds that distinction today. After I asked her to marry me for the third time, she actually said yes. I moved her to Oklahoma with me and after two years I learned an important lesson in life: if you marry a girl from Portland, you eventually will live in Portland. In 1987 I had given some lectures at Devers Thorny Issues conference, and in 1990, they were looking for a cornea surgeon and so called me in Oklahoma to see if I was interested. I interviewed with Dick Chenowith and Mike VanBuskirk; Cindy and I stayed at Cindy’s mom’s house, and after lobbying from all sides, I found myself at Devers Eye Institute four months later. Best career decision I ever made. One final personal note: I never thought that love could be as strong as what I have for Cindy, but in September of 1998, twin miracles occurred named Charlie and Nicholas…but discussion on this topic would take another ten pages at least.