University of Pittsburgh Awarded $25 Million with Advancements in Vision Care Leading the Way

April 8, 2021

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation has awarded the University of Pittsburgh a $25 million gift that will support focused biomedical research, develop collaborations through virtual spaces and physical infrastructure, build systems for new and growing life sciences companies, and drive inclusive workforce development.

“This gift is an investment in the University of Pittsburgh but also in the people and potential of our region,” University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said. “It will drive innovations in vision care and — even more — fuel Pittsburgh’s rise as a world leader in life sciences research.”   

The gift will improve access to vision care for underserved communities through outreach and direct care, help build and staff a vision “street lab” to test new treatments and therapies in safe environments, and support research into breakthrough programs such as biomedical solutions to corneal blindness.

Of the $25 million award, $20 million will fund vision care research and development through The Eye & Ear Foundation, which supports the University’s Departments of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology. 

José-Alain Sahel, MD, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, will lead vision work made possible by this gift. 

“We are driven by helping patients,” Sahel said. “It starts with identifying conditions among patients, which flows into using research to find solutions, creating new therapies and devices, commercializing those advancements, and ultimately bringing them back to the patient by enabling access to everyone.”

“No one person can do this,” he added. “It takes teams of clinicians, scientists, educators, rehabilitation experts, and patients themselves all looking at questions that have not been solved. Only then can you develop answers.”