Josephine Herbert Gleis commits $5 million to Gavin Herbert Eye Institute for vision research

Philanthropist is still making a difference as she approaches her 104th birthday

August 04, 2016
Josephine Herbert Gleis is pledging $5 million to UC Irvine Health’s Gavin Herbert Eye Institute to move current eye research forward at a faster pace and enable the pursuit of innovative new ideas for sight-saving treatments.

Gleis, who will be 104 in September, is a longtime friend of UCI. Over the years, her generous gifts – totaling $19 million – have changed lives in the arts and neurology, as well as ophthalmology.

In 2007, she and her son, Allergan founder Gavin Herbert, made the initial $10 million naming gift to build a state-of-the-art home for Orange County’s only academic eye center. Their action inspired others in the community to support the $39 million initiative, which was ultimately funded entirely through philanthropic investment.

“Mrs. Gleis has changed the landscape for vision treatment locally and around the world through her transformational support of UC Irvine Health’s premier eye institute,” said Dr. Roger Steinert, director of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and Irving H. Leopold Professor of Ophthalmology. “Thanks to her generosity, Orange County residents have access to world-class eye care without leaving the community. And when we find ways to eradicate preventable blindness, we will owe her a debt of gratitude for her steadfast support of vital research.”

Since the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute opened on the UCI campus in late 2013, there have been more than 137,000 outpatient visits and over 9,100 surgeries.

The institute’s physician-scientists are engaged in pioneering research that holds promise for improving eye health. A stem cell therapy for retinitis pigmentosa is in an early-phase human clinical trial that represents hope for independence to people who live with this potentially blinding condition. Stem cells are also being studied as a treatment for dry eyes. And collagen cross-linking is being pursued as an alternative to corneal transplantation in people with keratoconus, a progressive thinning and change in shape of the cornea that affects eyesight.

The gift from Gleis will help increase resources for ongoing investigations such as these, thereby speeding the pace of discovery. Her generosity also enables exploration of new ideas at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute that have the potential to one day eradicate preventable blindness.

Gavin Herbert Eye Institute: The faculty of internationally recognized physicians, surgeons and scientists at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and UC Irvine Health's Department of Ophthalmology provide highly specialized training to future ophthalmologists, access to leading-edge clinical trials, and sight-saving treatments and therapies for many eye disorders. The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute's mission is to develop educational programs, technologies and clinical solutions that enhance visual health and performance for people in Orange County, the nation and the world through cooperation with medical professionals, industry and the community. Visit www.eye.uci.edu for more information.

UC Irvine Health comprises the clinical, medical education and research enterprises of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UC Irvine Health at physician offices throughout Orange County and at its main campus, UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Calif., a 411-bed acute care hospital that provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. U.S. News & World Report has listed it among America’s Best Hospitals for 15 consecutive years. UC Irvine Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program, Level I trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center, and it’s the primary teaching hospital for UC Irvine’s School of Medicine. UC Irvine Health serves a region of more than 3 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County.

University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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