Robert C. Drews

Robert C. Drews, MD, an ophthalmologist, photographer, inventor of numerous medical instruments for the eye and emeritus professor at Washington University in St. Louis, has a lifelong connection to the university. He attended both the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Medicine, earning his undergraduate degree in 1951 and medical degree in 1955.

When deciding where to go to college, Washington University was top of mind for young Robert. Besides the fact that it was in easy walking distance of his family home, he knew it to be a first-rate school because eleven other members of his family had attended the university.

“Bob Drews has a deep and longstanding relationship with Washington University that has profoundly impacted our students, faculty and the greater university community,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

His expertise in lens implantation and cataract surgery brought Dr. Drews international recognition and invitations to lecture, perform and teach advanced ophthalmic micro-surgical techniques all over the world. He also helped pioneer the use of computer technology in the practice of ophthalmology.

He has authored more than 500 journal articles, book chapters and books and has served as editor or as an editorial board member of several leading ophthalmology journals. He also is an accomplished photographer whose ophthalmologic slides and videotaped surgical procedures are regarded as priceless teaching and research resources.

An advisory board member of the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, he’s been a member of more than 30 national and international ophthalmic societies, serving as president of many, including the American Ophthalmological Society, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, International Intraocular Implant Club, and the Pan American Association of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Drews, who was a member of Washington University’s Board of Trustees from 1988-1992, chaired the university’s Alumni Board of Governors and the Medical Alumni Annual Fund and other giving programs.

Now an emeritus professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, Dr. Drews has remained involved with the university in many capacities, serving on the National Council for the School of Medicine, Planned Giving Committee, School of Medicine Scholarship Initiative and the Eliot Society.

He has received numerous awards and honors from medical and ophthalmological groups around the world, including the Gold Medal of the Pan American Association of Ophthalmology; the Montgomery Medal of the Irish Ophthalmological Society; the Rayner Medal of the United Kingdom Cataract and Refractive Surgery Society; and the Medaglia d’Oro of the Societa Oftalmologica Italiana.

He received Washington University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988 at Founders Day and the School of Medicine’s Second Century Award in 2001.

The long association between Dr. Drews and the university includes his residency in ophthalmology from 1956-59, during which he served as chief resident in 1958-59. He followed that with a two-year stint in the Navy, serving at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, before returning to St. Louis to go into private practice and teach in the Department of Ophthalmology.

He taught and mentored ophthalmology students at the School of Medicine for almost 50 years and also served as chief of the ophthalmology section at Bethesda General Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital, as well as supervising ophthalmologist for the Missouri Division of Welfare.

Dr. Drews was born in 1930 to Leslie C. Drews, MD, and Sarah E. Drews. Both had attended Washington University, graduating in 1927. The Sallie Drews Music Scholarship is named in honor of his mother. His father, who also was an ophthalmologist, graduated from the School of Medicine in 1929.

His brother, two sisters and their husbands all graduated from Washington University. Dr. Drews himself was a physics and math major, but there were not a lot of available jobs for physics graduates at the time, so he decided to follow his father into ophthalmology.

He married Lorene Ruth Loewenguth in June 1951, and the two raised their family in University City, Missouri. In recent years, the Drews have split their time between St. Louis and Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida. They have four children and 10 grandchildren, one of whom also attended Washington University, earning a master’s degree in classics.