Professor Frank Billson

MBBS FRANZCO RACS FACS

Professor Frank Billson is a distinguished ophthalmologist who has dedicated his life’s work to the alleviation of suffering. His career has been marked by high achievement, sustained and compassionate humanitarian service and selfless leadership in the service of his profession and his country.

Professor Billson was previously Head of Paediatric Ophthalmology at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Neonatal Ophthalmologist at Mercy Maternity Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital, Victoria. During his time at the Royal Children’s Hospital, the hospital’s expertise in paediatric ophthalmology became internationally recognised. He has also served as Foundation Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Sydney and established the University’s Save Sight Institute.

Throughout his career, his research and clinical interests have had a major focus on neonatal and paediatric ophthalmology. The idea of early intervention and the benefits that early diagnosis and treatment could offer for children and their families was a major interest.

Professor Billson co-founded Foresight Australia in 1978 with Major General Paul Cullen AC and has dedicated over four decades to curing and preventing avoidable blindness and empowering communities in the Asia Pacific Region. He is currently a Director of Foresight Australia and Chairman of Sight for Life Foundation and the Sight Foundation Surgical Skills Laboratory, Sydney Eye Hospital.

Other notable positions in which Professor Billson has served include:

  • President of Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists (RACS)
  • Chairman of Qualification Education Committee (RACS)
  • Council examination bodies, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) and Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)
  • Chairman of the Surgical Board in Ophthalmology of RACS
  • External Examiner to the Universities in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea
  • Director of the Lions NSW Eye Bank
  • Member of staff of the Sydney Eye Hospital and both NSW children’s hospitals
  • Executive of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and was first Chairperson of the West Pacific Region of IAPB
  • Council Member of the International Council of Ophthalmology and the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Organising committee of the 2002 International Congress of Ophthalmology
  • Honorary Vice President of the IAPB.

Awards received by Professor Billson include:

  • 1985 awarded Officer of the Order of Australia
  • 1994 awarded Weary Dunlop Asia Medal “for selfless leadership in the service of both his profession and his country and internationally”
  • 1995 made a Life Governor of the Lions NSW-ACT Save Sight Foundation and is an Honorary Lion
  • 2003 awarded the International Humanitarian Award for Blindness Prevention by the American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • 2004 awarded the Claude Worth Lifetime Distinction Medal for contributions to paediatric ophthalmology
  • 2005 awarded Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology’s most prestigious award the “Jose Rizal Medal” given to an outstanding ophthalmologist for his or her excellence in ophthalmology
  • 2006 awarded NSW Senior Australian of the Year, in recognition of his humanitarian work in Australia over 40 years in the honorary care of prevention and treatment of blindness in premature babies.

To read further about Professor Billson’s distinguished career, life and achievements, refer to the article published in 2008 in Sydney University’s Alumni magazine, Radius.