Blind World Magazine

Gifts worth $6.2 million to fund new eye disease lab.

February 4, 2006.
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier - Waterloo,IA,USA.

Two gifts valued at $6.2 million will be used by the University of Iowa to set up a new genetics testing lab to help fight against degenerative eye diseases, university officials said Friday.

The lab will be part of the university's Center for Macular Degeneration, where researchers are working to better understand the genetic basis of the macular degeneration, an eye disease that can cause blindness.

The leading donor is Lucille A. Carver, of Muscatine, who contributed $5 million on behalf of her son, John Carver. The Foundation for Fighting Blindness contributed $1.2 million. The lab will be named the John and Marcia Carver Nonprofit Genetic Testing Lab.

Researchers say that in the next five years they hope to develop a clinical test that can be offered nationally to identify every gene known to cause an inherited eye disease.

Officials say work at the lab should strengthen the university's role as an international center for research and treatment of macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa and other degenerative eye diseases.

"We believe that increased access to genetic testing for inherited eye diseases is a critical step in the development of effective treatments," said Dr. Steven Rose, researcher for the Foundation for Fighting Blindness.

Studies show that over the next two decades, one of every three people over age 65 will be diagnosed with vision threatening eye diseases.

On the Net: University of Iowa Nonprofit Genetic Testing Laboratory:

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