When the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute opens its new 70,000-square-foot home on the UC Irvine campus in September, the community will gain access to a leading-edge center for the preservation of sight, with services ranging from eyeglass fittings to refractive surgeries to clinical trials of new therapies.
The comprehensive eye health institute, which is part of UC Irvine Health, includes 34 patient exam rooms with the latest in optical equipment, an optical shop, faculty offices and conference space. A dedicated pediatric area has play areas, video entertainment screens, kid-friendly restrooms and other features to make the experience more comfortable for the youngest patients, many with special needs. The interior design reflects recommendations from the Braille Institute that make it easier for low-vision patients to navigate around the building.
“This institute offers patients from both the local community and around the world access to clinically advanced eye care from internationally renowned ophthalmologists in a thoughtfully planned physical environment,” says UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake. “The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute is strategically located within walking distance of two major biomedical research centers and at the epicenter of the largest concentration of eye technology companies in the world. It’s well positioned to pursue its ambitious research goal of ending blindness by 2020.”
Ten Gavin Herbert Eye Institute physicians grace Best Doctors Inc.’s list of “Best Doctors in America,” including the institute’s founding director, Dr. Roger Steinert. An internationally recognized authority on cataract, cornea and refractive surgery, he is UC Irvine’s Irving H. Leopold Chair in Ophthalmology and a professor of both ophthalmology and biomedical engineering.
“I am fortunate to lead a talented team of 24 clinicians and researchers who are dedicated to making life better for people with vision issues,” Steinert says. “The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute has attracted the best and the brightest – ophthalmologists who are eager to be part of an institute that works at the edge of science, collaborating with medical peers and eye industry professionals to develop innovative technologies and clinical practices that improve sight. It’s rewarding to be able to see our patients from the local community and around the globe benefit from these advances.”
Gavin Herbert Eye Institute physicians are known for pioneering such medical procedures as refractive and corneal transplant surgery performed with femtosecond lasers and next-generation medical therapies for age-related macular degeneration. Research teams are investigating such advanced treatments as stem cell therapies to preserve and restore sight for individuals with retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration; infused contact lenses that replace eye drops to treat cystinosis; and a vaccine for ocular herpes, a leading cause of blindness.
The $39 million building is the first on the UC Irvine campus to be funded entirely through local corporate, foundation and individual philanthropic gifts; no government funding was required.
James V. “Jim” Mazzo, an operating partner with Newport Beach-based Versant Ventures and a UC Irvine Foundation trustee, led the very successful community campaign. The initial naming gift came in 2007 from Gavin Herbert, founder and chairman emeritus of Allergan Inc.; his wife, Ninetta; and his mother, Josephine Herbert Gleis.
“I’m delighted that we’ll finally have an eye institute at UC Irvine,” Gavin Herbert says. “The concept was first discussed when Dr. Irving Leopold helped start the department in 1975. So it’s been a long time coming. Orange County has become the research center for ophthalmology products, and the new eye institute is an important addition that will enhance clinical research in the development of new products.”
Other major donors were Abbott Medical Optics Inc., the Alcon Foundation, the Allergan Foundation, Julia and George Argyros, the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation, Bausch & Lomb, Esther and James Cavanaugh, the Discovery Eye Foundation, the Kratz Foundation, Marsha and Bill Link, and Kelly and Jim Mazzo.
Gavin Herbert Eye Institute patients being treated at Gottschalk Medical Plaza – also on the UC Irvine campus – will transition to the new center starting in September. The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute offices at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange will remain open for patient care.