About Saint Mary's

Honorary Degree - Dr. D. Brian O’Brien

2 October, 2015

Dr. D. Brian O’Brien, BSc, MD, CM, FRCS(C), LL.D

Dr. D. Brian O’Brien

Dr. D. Brian O'Brien is a retired ophthalmologist who worked for 43 years in Halifax as an eye surgeon, teacher and administrator. A pioneer in his field, he was the first surgeon in Atlantic Canada to repair retinal detachments and one of the first to use laser surgery in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

Born in Halifax, O’Brien majored in Chemistry at St. Francis Xavier University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree (magna cum laude) in 1952. After graduating from medical school, he worked in general practice in Shediac New Brunswick before completing a residency in Ophthalmology at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and a fellowship in retina and ophthalmic pathology in Toronto at St. Michael’s Hospital and Toronto General Hospital. Further professional development took him as far away as the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston and the Wilmer Eye Institute in Philadelphia.

An involved member of his professional community, Dr. O’Brien earned many distinctions during his career as an Ophthalmologist, including a Senior Membership Award from Doctors Nova Scotia. A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from his alma mater and a Community Service Award from the Charitable Irish Society of Halifax.

In the years following his retirement in 2009, Dr. O’Brien has distinguished himself as the champion of Halifax’s Holy Cross Cemetery, a valuable repository of the history of the Irish contribution to Saint Mary’s University and Nova Scotia. He is the Founder and Chair of the Holy Cross Trust Restoration Group and has been responsible for leading a volunteer group in refurbishing the chapel, repairing and straightening headstones, and documenting the names of those interred there to provide an online database for genealogical study.

Dr. O’Brien has also served as President, and Vice-President, of the Charitable Irish Society of Halifax, Chair of the Cultural Committee for the Charitable Irish Society, and over the years, as a board member for many non-profit organizations. He and his wife have five married children who live in the Halifax area.

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