Lawrence Hirst graduated with M.B.B.S. (first classes honours) from University of Queensland in 1969. After two years internship at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Australia, he undertook 3 years of Ophthalmology registrarship at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Australia from 1973-1976 and obtained The Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists and The Royal Australian College of Surgeons as well as a Diploma of Ophthalmology.
Then followed a Fellowship in Cornea and External Disease at the Wilmer Institute, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, as Professor Walter Stark’s first fellow in 1976-1977.
Another Fellowship in Neuro-ophthalmology as Professor Neil Miller’s first fellow, was undertaken in 1977-1978.
Lawrence Hirst then joined the Faculty of the Wilmer Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital as Assistant Director of the Corneal and External Disease Service and as Director of the first Eye Trauma Service.
From 1978-1983 Lawrence Hirst undertook clinical practice in Corneal and External Disease, published many scientific publications, and obtained a number of research grants including National Eye Institute grants and obtained a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health with honours.
In 1983 Lawrence Hirst moved to the Bethesda Eye Institute, St Louis University, St Louis, Missouri, USA as Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Corneal and External Diseases.
In 1984, Lawrence Hirst was promoted to Director of Bethesda Eye Institute, and Chairman of Ophthalmology Department, St Louis University.
Professor Lawrence Hirst returned to Australia in December, 1986 to take up the inaugural Chair of Ophthalmology, at the University of Queensland, Australia, at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
At the same time, Lawrence Hirst became Executive Director of the Prevent Blindness Foundation and established the first eyebank in Queensland where he has been the Medical Director until today.
In 2005 Lawrence Hirst took on the role as C.E.O. of the newly founded academic institution, the Queensland Eye Institute.
During his academic career he has published and presented on more than 300 scientific projects and has been granted more than $20 million dollars to further teaching, clinical and research advances.
His area of expertise and training was in Cornea and External Disease and for more than 25 years his principal surgery consisted of performing corneal transplantation.
Since 2008 he now operates only on patients with pterygium. Professor Hirst is probably the only corneal trained surgeon in Australia, and perhaps in the world, to have restricted their practice to pterygium surgery only. This indicates the importance he places on providing the best care possible to patients with pterygium.
In 2011, he established the first dedicated pterygium centre in Australia, and perhaps the world, The Australian Pterygium Centre.