Dr. Miguel Burnier was the Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology, McGill University, from 1993 to 2008. He is a Full Professor of Ophthalmology, Pathology, Medicine and Oncology at McGill and he was also the Thomas O. Hecht Family Chair in Ophthalmology (1996-2012). This is the first and the only endowment Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. It was awarded to Dr. Burnier upon his arrival as Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Burnier is currently the General Director of Clinical Research & Training of the McGill University Health Centre Research Institute.
An extremely active researcher with a particular interest in uveal melanoma, Dr. Burnier is the Director of the Henry C. Witelson Ocular Pathology Laboratory. The Laboratory is a unique facility in Canada and has become the largest research and training center in Ocular Pathology in North America. It plays a crucial role as a consultancy service to Pathologists, Ophthalmologists and Oncologists and a teaching facility to medical students, residents and fellows from around the world. Over 125 fellows from different countries have passed through Dr. Burnier’s lab.
The laboratory offers the only Ocular Pathology graduate program in North America. Since 1999, over 20 graduate students of the Laboratory completed their thesis at the Pathology Graduate Program, McGill University. Also during this time, 30 international graduate students from Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; University of Valladolid and University of Barcelona, Spain and University of Coimbra, Portugal completed their thesis. CEGEP students from Marianopolis College and Dawson College spend a week in the Laboratory as part of a special program to introduce them to research.
Dr. Burnier is the author and co-author of over 500 publications including, 330 peer reviewed papers, 251 peer reviewed abstracts, over 60 publications in various scientific journals, three books and 18 book chapters. Dr. Burnier has served as Guest Speaker and Visiting Professor at many conferences and symposia across Canada, the United States, Europe and South America. He is an active member of over 20 societies and serves as an Editorial Board Member for Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences (IOVS). He is also a reviewer for several ophthalmology publications such as, The American Journal of Ophthalmology; Ophthalmology; Cancer and Melanoma Research, and The British Journal of Ophthalmology among others. Dr. Burnier was the Editor- in- Chief of The Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology from 2002-2005. Dr. Burnier also holds international appointments such as Professor of Post Graduate Studies and Thesis Supervisor for the Department of Ophthalmology, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Professor of Ophthalmology and Pathology, University of Valladolid, Spain; and Professor and Consultant Pathologist for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) American Registry of Pathology, Washington.
Dr. Burnier has won many awards including The University of Sao Paulo’s Gold Medal in Ophthalmology, The European Ophthalmology Award of Excellence, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Award of Excellence and The Pan American Association of Ophthalmology Life Achievement Award. In research, Dr Burnier received the WHO award for Melanoma research. In 2009, Dr. Burnier received the FARVO medal from the ARVO for his research contributions to the field of Ocular Pathology and Oncology. Recently, in 2012 Dr. Burnier received The Brazilian Academy of Science Award & Membership in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Among his teaching awards, Dr. Burnier has received the 2006 Gradle Teaching Award given by the American Academy of Ophthalmology/Pan American Association of Ophthalmology. At McGill, Dr. Burnier was named to the Faculty Honour List for Educational Excellence in 2007. In Canada, Dr. Burnier received the Frederick Feldman Teaching Award from the University of Toronto. Dr. Burnier is the recipient of the Rio Branco Medal, which corresponds to the Order of Brazil. He is also the Chair #45 of the “Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis.”
In celebration of the 10th Year Anniversary of the Henry C. Witelson Ocular Pathology Laboratory, the Burnier International Ocular Pathology Society (BIOPSY) was founded. The inaugural meeting of the society was in Montreal, May 6-8, 2010. The second meeting was held in Valladolid, Spain in 2012 and the third meeting was held in Balneario Camboriu, Brazil in April 2014. BIOPSY currently has 120 members and is known for its continuous growth worldwide.