May 4, 2023

Wallace named as VUMC’s New Chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

David Wallace, MD, MPH, has been named as the new chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Eye Institute.

David Wallace, MD, MPH

by John Howser

David Wallace, MD, MPH, the Marilyn K. Glick Professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology for Indiana University School of Medicine, has been named as the new chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Eye Institute (VEI) for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He will join VUMC Aug. 1.

Wallace succeeds Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, G.W. Hale Professor of Ophthalmology, who, after 20 impactful years, is stepping down from his role as department chair on June 30. Sean Donahue, MD, Coleman Professor and vice chair for clinical affairs in the Department of Ophthalmology, will serve as interim chair until Wallace arrives.

In addition to senior administrative leadership and clinical experience as a pediatric ophthalmologist, Wallace has authored or co-authored more than 200 scientific publications, book chapters, editorials and other articles. He is a frequently invited lecturer, having presented at numerous national and international professional courses and symposia.

As VUMC’s chair of Ophthalmology and director of VEI, Wallace will report to Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Wallace will have programmatic oversight for all ophthalmology services, which encompass the department’s clinical operations, growth strategy, finances, research, infrastructure, staffing, educational programs and faculty affairs. As a senior member of VUMC’s leadership team, Wallace will also be appointed to serve on select committees and in other administrative capacities.

“The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences figures prominently in our missions. I look forward to welcoming Dr. Wallace to VUMC and our senior leadership team,” Balser said. “His tenure as Indiana University’s ophthalmology leader, along with a distinguished career encompassing essentially all aspects of academic health care, have prepared him well to assume this new role. I look forward to working closely with him as we build on the many exciting opportunities ahead.

“I want to again thank Dr. Sternberg for such outstanding leadership across his years of service. Paul’s contributions have been transformational for our organization and to the field of ophthalmology. He is leaving a wonderful foundation for Dr. Wallace to build upon. I also want to express my appreciation to the search committee chair, Dr. Seth Karp, and the other members of the committee for their outstanding work to identify Dr. Wallace.”

With nearly 170,000 clinic visits in fiscal year 2022, the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences is one of the nation’s top programs. Including 62 faculty specialists and subspecialists, 11 fellows and 15 residents, the department is nationally recognized as home to leading experts who diagnose and treat the full spectrum of eye diseases and disorders. Committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, approximately 50% of the department’s faculty are female.

“Being able to offer the most advanced adult and pediatric ophthalmic services is essential for our patients. Dr. Wallace brings a wealth of experience from an academic medical center setting to VUMC. I am confident that through his leadership we will continue to grow these important services that were established and advanced by Dr. Sternberg,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer.

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences currently ranks No. 4 nationally in NIH funding for ophthalmology research. Funds support investigative programs in key blinding diseases, age-related macular degeneration, retinal vascular diseases and glaucoma. VEI’s core research programs reside within the Potocsnak Family Research Laboratory, while the Institute is home to the Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, a collaboration of more than 50 vision scientists from across the Vanderbilt campus.

“I have been privileged to hold multiple leadership roles at VUMC; however, the opportunity to serve as the G.W. Hale Professor and chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences remains the most special. I am delighted that someone of Dr. Wallace’s caliber and experience will succeed me in this role. The future is bright for the Vanderbilt Eye Institute,” Sternberg said.

Since 2017, Wallace has served as director of the Eugene and Marilyn K. Glick Eye Institute for Indiana University School of Medicine. His career in academic medicine began at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he served as assistant and associate professor before joining Duke University Medical Center, where he rose to the position of professor with tenure. From Duke, he joined IU School of Medicine as Ophthalmology chair.

Wallace has held leadership positions with professional associations and is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus in 2021.

His primary research interests are retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and amblyopia. He served a five-year term as chair of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group, a National Institutes of Health-funded, national clinical research network. He currently leads multicenter studies of low-dose bevacizumab for ROP.

He has served as senior associate editor for the Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and as president of the North Carolina Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.

“I am excited to lead the talented team at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute and to work with Dr. Balser, Dr. Pinson and other VUMC leaders to achieve our common goals. I look forward to what we can accomplish together in the years to come, and I can’t wait to get started,” Wallace said.

A native of Indiana, Wallace earned a Bachelor of Science from Indiana University and an MD from Indiana University School of Medicine. He was a resident and chief resident with the Cullen Eye Institute at Baylor College of Medicine, then underwent fellowship training in pediatric ophthalmology at Indiana University Medical Center. He later earned a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina.

Wallace and his fiancée, Amy, look forward to living in Nashville and exploring the city and beyond. They enjoy hiking, biking and long walks with their dog, Cricket.