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
Irvine, Calif., Aug. 4, 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.