New vision center in Philadelphia

May 25, 2011

The Wills Eye Institute and Thomas Jefferson University have created the Wills Vision Research Center at Jefferson.

Philadelphia-The Wills Eye Institute and Thomas Jefferson University have created the Wills Vision Research Center at Jefferson.

The center will use a multidisciplinary team approach that will draw on knowledge and clinical expertise in 15 fields, among them ophthalmology, oncology, pathology, neurology, and endocrinology. One goal will be the fostering of regional, national, and global collaborations.

Julia A. Haller, MD, and A. Sue Menko, PhD, will direct the new center. Dr. Haller is the ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye Institute and a professor and chairwoman of the department of ophthalmology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Menko is a professor of pathology, anatomy, and cell biology at Jefferson Medical College.

“The primary focus of this new initiative is on translational research and studies that will have a major impact on improving vision health,” said Dr. Haller, a member of the Ophthalmology Times Editorial Advisory Board.

Research projects already in development include understanding the genetics of congenital abnormalities; preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and Parkinson’s disease; new treatments for visual system cancers such as retinoblastoma and uveal melanoma; the connection between low vision and depression, especially in the elderly; and diabetic retinopathy.

“A major objective at Thomas Jefferson University over the next several years is to increase our portfolio of programmatic research initiatives,” said Leonard Freedman, PhD, vice dean for research, Jefferson Medical College. “The depth and breadth of the Wills Eye/Jefferson Vision Center is exactly the kind of multidisciplinary approach we believe represents the future of biomedical research.”