The EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Supports Research
|School of Optometry Interim Dean Rod Nowakowski,
ESFA Board President Steve Yoder, former
School of Medicine Dean Bob Rich, and
A grant of $1.2 million from The EyeSight Foundation of Alabama (ESFA) has completed the renovation of the third and fourth floors of Volker Hall into The EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Vision Research Laboratories. The open-lab design concept will enable several faculty members in the School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology and the School of Optometry Department of Vision Sciences to share large, conjoined lab spaces and create more opportunities for collaboration.
This lab will combine the resources of each of these units, including the many renowned clinician-scientists on faculty who are conducting groundbreaking research on important vision initiatives. The departments of Vision Sciences and Ophthalmology expect this partnership to one day bring the scientific world closer to understanding the diseases that cause blindness.
“We have a strong group of vision scientists on campus, but some are in the School of Medicine, and some are in the School of Optometry,” says Lanning Kline, M.D., chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. “These researchers have made great strides on their own, but in many cases, they’re working several blocks apart. The ESFA recognized the value of bringing these two groups together to create synergy that will enable us to generate new ideas and accelerate the research through collaboration.”
The goal of these laboratories is to address the underlying pathology of vision loss associated with glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, genetic diseases, and age-related macular degeneration; to determine the best treatments for these blinding diseases; and ultimately to cure them. The prevalence of partial vision loss and blindness from these diseases is disproportionately high in the Southeast, particularly in Alabama. The hope is that the new research space will provide the infrastructure that will help prevent vision loss throughout the state, region, and nation.
The new research labs were dedicated during a two-day celebration in September 2010. UAB was honored to have Paul Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute, present at the dedication.
“The EyeSight Foundation is so pleased to be a partner with UAB in developing this state-of-the-art lab space,” says Torrey Van Antwerp DeKeyser, executive director of The EyeSight Foundation of Alabama. “We are excited about the opportunities the labs present for helping advance to the next level the outstanding research being conducted by UAB’s top-notch vision scientists. It is a win-win for all involved.”
The ESFA, a nonprofit foundation with a mission to serve as a catalyst for improving eyesight through education, research, and access to care, has been a longtime generous supporter of UAB, contributing funds totaling more than $40 million to the School of Optometry, Department of Ophthalmology, Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital, and other areas of UAB. Additional funds from the provost’s office and the schools of Medicine and Optometry at UAB were also given toward the laboratories.
Maintaining the Momentum / Winter 2011