"We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout.” - Epictetus
The Peter Watson International Scholarship was named in honour of Peter Watson (1930-2017), a giant in the field of Ophthalmology and vision research, recognised internationally for his pioneering work on the mechanisms and treatment of blinding eye disease.
During his career, Peter revolutionised the practice of ophthalmology. Together with the late John Cairns, he developed an operation for glaucoma, the trabeculectomy, which remains to this day the most commonly performed surgical treatment for glaucoma worldwide. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world and trabeculectomy has had a huge effect in reducing the burden of blindness due to this disease. Peter’s other enormous contributions to the field of ophthalmology include world-leading research on the mechanisms of scleral disease and the mechanisms of corneal graft rejection.
Peter held clinical appointments at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London where he ran the Scleritis Clinic for many years. His landmark textbook, ‘The Sclera and Systemic Disorders’ remains the only comprehensive text on the subject. Peter served as Editor of Eye and was Master of the Oxford Ophthalmological Congress amongst many other leadership roles. Major international awards included the Jules Francois International Research Gold Medal, the Duke Elder International Gold Medal and the Jules Francois International Research Gold Medal from the International Council of Ophthalmology.
Peter was dedicated to international collaboration and education and was also responsible for setting up and running the International Council for Ophthalmology (ICO) Examinations, a structure which has driven up the standards of ophthalmology in many countries around the world. The ICO Examinations remain the only worldwide medical-specialty examinations. They are independent and free of any outside influence and can be taken in the candidate's own country, so far by over 19,500 candidates.
As Founder and Chairman of the Cambridge Eye Trust, he helped raise over £1.5 million to support and advance eye research in Cambridge to improve treatment for patients.
In 2017 he passed away at the age of 86 after a long battle with cancer that he faced with characteristic bravery and stoicism.
The Peter Watson International Scholarship was founded with the goal of promoting interest in vision science and providing opportunities for students to gain exposure to research at the highest level.
Could you be the next Peter Watson?
Adapted from a tribute by Professor Keith Martin, Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Cambridge
The Peter Watson Learning Resource Center, Pakistan