Prof O'Brien, a graduate of University College Cork (Medicine), was awarded Fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons, Glasgow in 1987 and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, London in 1989. After a clinical research fellowship at Tufts New England Medical Centr, Bostin, he completed his postgraduate thesis and was awarded the degree of Doctorate of Medicine (UCC) in 1992.
After graduating as a young doctor in Cork, Prof O’Brien moved to the UK to complete his Higher Surgical Training. His was a simple motto of “have rucksack will travel”. He gained invaluable clinical experience working in hospitals such as Atkinson Morley’s Hospital, Wimbledon; The London Hospital, Whitechapel; King’s College Hospital,Camberwell; King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor; St Paul’s Eye Hospital, Liverpool; Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool. In 1988 he travelled to the New England Medical Centre, Boston and completed a Glaucoma research fellowship with Bernie Schwartz. In 1992 he completed another Glaucoma clinical fellowship in Moorfields Eye Hospital, London with Roger Hitchings FRCS. In 1993 he was appointed Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and spent six happy years working in Scotland before he returned to work in the Mater Miscericordiae University Hospital, Dublin in 1998 to a similiar appointment.
On his return to Ireland, he continued his research and in 2004 was appointed Professor Of Ophthalmology at University College Dublin. Prof O’Brien has extensive clinical trial experience. He has has a long track record of translational research. To date he has supervised over 37 research degree students (PhD, MD, M.Sc, M.Med Sc.), and has a h-index of 30, having published over 145 peer-reviewed publications.
He is a past Chairman of the ‘UK and Eire Glaucoma Society’, and the ‘Glaucoma Program Committee’ at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology He serves on the ‘Scientific Advisory Board of the Glaucoma Foundation’ in New York, and the ‘Moorfields Eye Charity Research Committee’, London.