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Eyecare Center Receives $5M Gift

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It will advance retinal research.

INVISION UCgiftGavin and Ninetta Herbert have committed a $5-million estate gift to UC Irvine Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute to expand the breadth and depth of research into the retina. Photo courtesy of Gavin and Ninetta Herbert.

(Press Release) Allergan founder Gavin Herbert and his wife, Ninetta, have pledged $5 million to advance retinal research at UC Irvine Health’s Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, the academic eye care center named in his honor.

“As longtime champions of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, the Herberts have shown that community leaders can have an indelible impact on academic medicine and the future of healthcare,” said Dr. Michael J. Stamos, interim dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine. “We are grateful for this generous estate gift, which makes possible future investigations that may explore ideas we cannot even imagine today.”

At any given time at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, there are 25 to 30 investigations underway.  They address diverse aspects of eye health – from engineering an artificial cornea to preserving sight in patients with retinitis pigmentosa and from improved treatment for blepharospasms to a promising solution for dry age-related macular degeneration, or retinal atrophy.

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The Herberts’ gift is dedicated to expanding the breadth and depth of research into the retina.

“Orange County has long been recognized as an international hub for eye care companies,” Herbert said. “Many people worked long years to complement industry with a world-class academic eye center that would be an innovative partner and also provide the highest quality of care for the community. With that now in place at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, our gift will sustain the research that is vital to the institute’s long-term reputation as a global leader.”

Gavin and Ninetta Herbert and his mother, Josephine Herbert Gleis, provided the initial naming gift for the Orange County vision hub in 2007. Herbert went on to inspire many local ophthalmology companies and individuals to contribute to the institute’s new home, serving as a major force in funding construction of the $39 million building entirely through private philanthropy. He also introduced founding director Dr. Roger Steinert to the Orange County ophthalmology community, leading to Steinert’s eventual move from a Harvard Medical School professorship to chair the UC Irvine Department of Ophthalmology.

Herbert was the first president of the Chancellor’s Club, a community of UCI alumni, parents, faculty and friends who have made a commitment to invest in areas that further university excellence in academics, research and service. He has received the campus’s highest honor, the UCI Medal, for his bold vision and support.

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