BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A $225,000 grant from the Margaret L. Wendt
Foundation and a $220,000 grant from the national organization,
Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), have helped push the
University at Buffalo's new Ira G. Ross Eye Institute over goal in
meeting a $3 million challenge.
While the new institute needs a total of $8 million to
rehabilitate and equip its clinical center at 1176 Main St. and
hire more faculty and staff, its recent focus has been on meeting
the challenge grant given by Elizabeth Pierce Olmsted Ross, M.D.
Olmsted Ross is a noted ophthalmologist and 1939 alumna of the UB
School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Adding these two grants
and Olmsted Ross' matching grant to the prior donations, the
institute's fund-raising total now stands at $6.6 million.
"I am delighted with our success to date, although I never
doubted our ability to raise the money," said Olmsted Ross. "I am
excited by the momentum that we are gaining toward our final
The grant from the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation will assist with
purchase of technology and equipment. Noting that they welcome the
opportunity to serve science and the community, the trustees of the
foundation said they "are encouraged by the innovative approach and
the collaborative spirit of those involved that will make this an
institute of international prominence."
The RPB grant brings national recognition to the institute,
which will have research facilities on the UB South (Main Street)
"Research to Prevent Blindness is a thoughtful investor in the
ophthalmic research community, guided by a prominent scientific
review committee," said James D. Reynolds, M.D., professor and
chair in the Department of Ophthalmology in the UB medical school.
"To be a recipient of one of their grants is a great honor."
The RPB grant will fund research done by new UB faculty hired to
work in the institute, as well as help cover the costs of hiring
technicians and post-doctoral students.
"We have a high degree of confidence in the established
strengths and future potential of the UB Department of
Ophthalmology, as evidenced by the awarding of our Challenge
Grant," said Jim Romano, chief operating officer of RPB. "We
eagerly await reports of their contributions to vision
Frederick C. Morin III, M.D., interim UB vice president for
health affairs and interim dean of the UB medical school, said the
grants demonstrate the eye institute's promise and the quality of
its investigators and their research potential.
"A previous grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation has enabled
us to bring in renowned faculty for the new eye institute," he
said. "Now the Margaret L. Wendt and RPB grants, through equipment
and salary support, will ensure that those new faculty have the
means to pursue better vision."
The institute already has hired Federico Gonzalez-Fernandez,
M.D., an ocular pathologist, and John Sullivan, M.D., Ph.D., who
specializes in retinal physiology and disease. The plans are to add
three more new scientists, one each in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
The institute, established in December 2003, combines research
and eye care. "It's a nationally unique model," Reynolds said. "To
our knowledge it's the first time an academic institution has
paired up with a social services agency," he added, referring to
the Elizabeth Pierce Olmsted, M.D., Center for the Visually
Impaired located adjacent to the institute site on Main Street.
The Ira G. Ross Eye Institute, named for the late husband of
Olmsted Ross, will diagnose and treat eye diseases, as well as
provide prevention and rehabilitation services. Additionally, it
will run education programs for both physicians and members of the
Western New York community.
Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of
millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United
States for research into all blinding eye diseases. For information
on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants
Program, go to .
The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation is a private, philanthropic
organization that focuses its work in Western New York and is
devoted to the development of a stronger Western New York