Leon W Herndon, Jr, MD '91

2016 Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award recipient

Leon Herndon

Leon Herndon, MD, has earned international acclaim as an educator, a physician, and a leader in the fields of clinical ophthalmology and glaucoma research. He can now add a UNC School of Medicine Distinguished Medical Alumnus award to his already outstanding list of accomplishments.

Herndon ’91 serves as associate professor of ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center. The Raleigh native has been on the faculty at Duke since 1996 after completing his medical school and residency training at UNC.

Herndon and Cedric Bright, MD, ’90 assistant dean of admissions, UNC School of Medicine, first met in 1986 when they were both participating in UNC’s Medical Education Development (MED) program. They then entered the School of Medicine one year apart. When asked what he remembers about their time together at UNC, Bright is quick to bring up the pair’s prowess on the intramural basketball courts at Woollen Gym.

Since their time at UNC, Bright said he has enjoyed seeing Herndon’s successes, first during their time as colleagues at Duke and more recently as leaders within the National Medical Association.

“Dr. Herndon is someone UNC can be proud of,” Bright said. “He is a compassionate physician, a renowned scholar, and a man committed to excellence in all that he does.”

Over the course of his career, Herndon has earned numerous accolades, both as a teacher and as a glaucoma researcher. He has received the Golden Globe Award from the Duke Eye Center, which recognizes outstanding teaching faculty.

Herndon’s research activities center on the development of innovative surgical and non-surgical options for the treatment of glaucoma and cataracts. His goal is the development of less invasive surgeries, which can lead to improved recovery for patients. His work has taken him across the globe as a speaker.

He is also a leader in his medical field and in civic life, serving on the International Education Subcommittee for the American Glaucoma Society, the Program Committee of the World Glaucoma Association, the Chandler and Grant Society, and the International Congress of Glaucoma Surgeons.

His commitment to community service has been recognized with honors as diverse as the Dedicated Humanitarian Service Award from the President of the Dominican Republic to the Service to Mankind Award from the Hillsborough Sertoma Club.

He often travels to West Africa to provide care for people suffering with glaucoma who would not otherwise have access to the high level of care available to his patients here in the Triangle.

“I think what makes Leon stand out is the fact that as a black physician, he’s chosen to specialize in a disease – glaucoma – which disproportionately affects black people, and he’s established himself as both a leader in the academic field and someone who does incredible philanthropic work across the world,” Bright said.

In recognition of his exceptional achievements as an educator, clinician and leader in the field of ophthalmology and glaucoma research, we are proud to present the Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award to Leon Herndon.