David F. Weeks to step down at RPB

October 13, 2011

David F. Weeks will step down from his role as chairman and chief executive officer of Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) at the end of this year after having served the organization for 50 years.

New York-David F. Weeks will step down from his role as chairman and chief executive officer of Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) at the end of this year after having served the organization for 50 years.

“I have been privileged to be associated with pioneers in eye research to create the arsenal of treatments used today by eye-care specialists to enhance the quality of life for patients suffering from vision loss,” he said. “I am proud that RPB has been a driving force in creating a vibrant community of scientists who are demonstrating that many forms of blindness will be prevented and cured in the future.”

Weeks became the organization’s first executive officer in 1961 and has served in a voluntary capacity as chairman since 2003. During his tenure, RPB’s year-end net assets increased from $13,500 in 1960 to more than $250 million in 2010.

The organization also went from approving unrestricted grants of $5,000 each to 11 U.S. institutions to giving annual unrestricted eye research grants of $100,000 each to 56 medical schools and providing individual grant support at every stage of a scientist’s career. Over the span of its existence, RPB has awarded almost $300 million in grants to ophthalmology departments.

Weeks is credited with writing the bill that resulted in the creation of the National Eye Institute within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1968. And by making RPB grants available only to ophthalmology departments, he led an effort to encourage medical schools to elevate ophthalmology from divisional status within surgery departments and create eye research institutes.

Weeks is an honorary member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. He has served on the NIH’s National Advisory Eye Council and on the FDA’s Ophthalmic Devices Committee of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Succession planning at RPB is under way.

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