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10.18.2011

Adrienne Arsht Makes $500,000 Gift To Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Gift to establish the betti lidsky Retinitis Pigmentosa Endowed Research Fund.

A $500,000 gift from philanthropist Adrienne Arsht to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine will establish the betti lidsky Retinitis Pigmentosa Endowed Research Fund.

This endowed fund will support the research activities of the Adrienne Arsht Hope for Vision Retinal Degeneration Research Laboratory at Bascom Palmer, which Arsht established in 2008 with a $1 million gift. Named in honor of one of Hope for Vision’s founders, betti lidsky, Hope for Vision is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of retinal degeneration and other blinding diseases.

Bascom Palmer ophthalmologist, Byron L. Lam, M.D., director of the Adrienne Arsht Hope for Vision Research Laboratory, and Jeffrey L. Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D., announced the gift at Hope for Vision’s annual “Party with a Purpose” in a surprise presentation
on behalf of Arsht, who was unable to attend the event.

Through a prepared statement for the event, Arsht announced, “We are all here tonight because of betti lidsky’s incredible spirit. Her unwavering belief that scientists will find the cause and cure for retinitis pigmentosa inspires us all. betti has captured my heart and has inspired me in my own projects to never give up and to persevere.”

Arsht first got involved with Hope for Vision when she learned that the Lidsky family’s oldest son, Isaac, clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Ambro in her home state of Delaware.

Earlier this year, Lam and a research team at the University of Miami, identified a new gene that causes retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a form of blindness, ending the Lidsky family’s nearly 20-year search for what caused three of their four children to lose their sight during their teen-aged years. Their parents, betti and Carlos, had the family’s DNA tested for more than 50 RP genes. This discovery demonstrated the power of new genetic methodology to find the cause of disease in families. Finding the genetic causes of retinal degeneration is important because it will lead to a better understanding of retinal biology overall.

Surprised and astonished by the extraordinary gift, betti lidsky exclaimed, “Adrienne’s heart-sight sees and understands all the possibilities to make the mission of eradicating blindness a reality. She is a beautiful ‘mensch’ and our gratitude and love for her are boundless.”

Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, said, “Innovative research will one day eradicate blinding diseases. Adrienne Arsht’s interest in vision research and technology is making an indelible mark on medical research. The work being conducted in the Adrienne Arsht Hope for Vision Laboratory will result in better patient care and the possibility of developing new therapies and treatment. We are extraordinarily grateful for her devotion to Bascom Palmer and her confidence in our physicians and scientists.”

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