Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Receives Record-Setting $12 Million Gift to Establish Research Center

Philanthropist Lois Pope's donation will support macular degeneration and retinal diseases research

Nationally renowned philanthropist Lois Pope remembers all too well the struggle her mother, Anastasia Berrodin, experienced as her vision slowly disappeared, the heartbreaking results of an incurable eye disease known as macular degeneration. But Mrs. Pope says she also vividly remembers the care shown by the physicians and staff at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, as they tried in vain to slow the spread of the disease.

In honor of her beloved mother, and in hopes of finding a cure for macular degeneration, Mrs. Pope recently announced an incredibly generous $12 million gift to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

She made the announcement March 2 at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute 38th Annual Evening of Vision Gala at The Breakers in Palm Beach.

“I’ll never forget the compassion, kindness, and generosity,” said Mrs. Pope. “My mother did go blind and that is why I stand here today. To give back some of that kindness and compassion that I feel in my heart for those who are suffering from this horrible disease. I think we will have a cure. I believe that now is the time.”

The largest single donation in the Institute’s 56-year history, the gift will establish a collaborative macular degeneration and retinal diseases research center that will be known as the Lois Pope Center for Retinal & Macular Degeneration Research.

It will also create a clinical research endowment that will ensure researchers have the resources to seek out new treatments in perpetuity.

“We are incredibly grateful to Lois Pope for her extraordinary gift,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., the Kathleen and Stanley J. Glaser Chair in Ophthalmology and director of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, who was joined by John Clarkson, M.D., the former chairman of Bascom Palmer and dean of the Miller School. “Researchers and clinicians at Bascom Palmer have a legacy of leadership in the global fight against retinal diseases. Mrs. Pope’s generosity will allow that tradition to continue and usher in an unprecedented era of scientific discovery in our mission to end macular degeneration and other blinding conditions.”

A long-time supporter of Bascom Palmer and the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, Mrs. Pope was the driving force behind the establishment of the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the Miller School, the world’s foremost center for research, treatment, and services for paralysis and other neurological diseases. It is home to the renowned The Miami Project/Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.

“This gift builds upon Mrs. Pope’s long history of generosity to the University of Miami and the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine,” said Julio Frenk, president of the University of Miami.” Her on-going philanthropy is remarkable and will continue to have a significant impact on the development of pioneering treatments and cures. We cannot thank her enough for her vision and dedication.”

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among people age 60 and older. It causes damage to the macula, the center of the retina and the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision, which lets people read, drive and recognize faces.

Mrs. Pope’s mother received care at Bascom Palmer for the condition in the 1980s and 90s.

“Everyone at Bascom Palmer was so wonderful to her during the many years she received treatment,” said Mrs. Pope, a resident of Manalapan, FL, who is also the nation’s foremost advocate and supporter of disabled veterans.

The Lois Pope Research Center will be located on the Institute’s 7.4-acre campus at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. It will serve as the premier hub of national and international clinical care and research studies, as well as collaborations to identify new treatments and therapies for AMD and other retinal conditions, including diabetic retinopathy and inherited retinal diseases.

“Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is one of the crown jewels of the Miller School of Medicine and UHealth – the University of Miami Health System,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., executive vice president for health affairs; CEO of UHealth; dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School of Medicine. “The Institute’s collaborative approach capitalizes on the groundbreaking discoveries of the best ophthalmic experts in the world. The Lois Pope Research Center will build on the expertise to develop state-of-the art, targeted therapies that have the potential to help patients worldwide.”

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