The Department requires approximately $1 million annually to support an expanding menu of research projects, to provide bridge funding between times when scientists are without grants, and to fund new investigator recruitments. The annual infrastructure support helps fund administrative activity, new clinical faculty recruitments, educational programs, and the acquisition of basic equipment. An expansion of the Department's endowment is essential to protect advancements in both its clinical and research initiatives.
An endowed chair provides support and prestige, in perpetuity, for distinguished faculty. Endowments allow the faculty to be more productive in activities such as writing papers and texts, and leveraging research support from the National Eye Institute/NIH and other agencies. Endowed chairs are attractive naming opportunities for donors. Current funding requirements of the University for Endowed Chairs are $2.5 million for a Professorship, $1.5 million for an Associate Professorship, and $1.5 million for an Assistant Professorship.
The Scholars Program enables the Department to recruit new faculty. Private support allows the department to engage the person selected for a period of three to five years, during which time, the donor's name may be attached to the scholar and his or her activities.
Support for postdoctoral fellowships underwrites the training of young clinicians and scientists in a specialized field of inquiry in ophthalmology or vision science. Fellows are vital to a robust research program, contributing to a faculty member's academic productivity at a relatively low cost to the Department. The commitment of a Fellow to the Department ranges between one and two years.
Facility and Technology Improvements
Renovations are needed in specific areas of our clinical and research building to develop and maintain centers of excellence in all our specialty areas including Retina, Glaucoma, Cornea and Refractive Surgery, and Pediatric Ophthalmology. Research laboratories require modernization and refurbishing. State-of-the-art equipment in all major areas is required.
Renovation of Harkness Eye Institute Building
Over the coming years, we will be prioritizing the renovation of the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute facility. The aging infrastructure of the building is an essential issue that must be addressed. A formal space assessment has determined that the every aspect of the building must be renovated, including the research laboratories, faculty practices suites, resident clinics, operating rooms and recovery areas, meeting and educational facilities and administrative offices. We are now seeking funds to adequately update the facility. A renovated facility will enable the Department to continue to attract and retain the best faculty and make the Eye Institute a comfortable and desirable place to visit.
Ophthalmology Annual Fund
The Ophthalmology Annual Fund underwrites the research initiatives, clinical trials, patient care, and educational programs of the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute. Our research and clinical faculty are highly regarded scholars who have yielded and continue to generate groundbreaking insights into vision science. The Ophthalmology Annual Fund helps Columbia Ophthalmology invest in advanced and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, conduct research on innovative therapeutic and surgical interventions, and facilitate the educational training of our distinguished fellows and residents. Support of the Ophthalmology Annual Fund allows Columbia Ophthalmology to remain on the cutting-edge of research initiatives, clinical practice, and educational training.
Retina Research Fund
Retinal diseases and disorders have a devastating effect on the quality of life for individuals of all ages, from birth throughout the advanced stages of life. They can occur suddenly and without warning, often leading to severe vision loss if left untreated. Given the effects of these vision-impairing conditions, our faculty is exploring research into therapeutic and pharmacological interventions, including gene therapy for eye disorders and stem cell research and transplantation. The Retina Research Fund underwrites the collaborative efforts among our retina specialists as they conduct research initiatives, clinical trials, and innovative surgical and therapeutic interventions aimed at eliminating the progression of retinal diseases and disorders. Your support of the efforts of our retina faculty has the potential to prevent and retard retinal diseases and restore the gift of sight for members of our community.
Glaucoma Research Fund
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness in the working age population in the United States and worldwide. Currently, there is no cure for the disease and treatment involves long-term chronic care with medications, laser treatments, and/or surgical procedures. Early intervention and treatment can aid in preventing severe vision loss. In order to expand our research initiatives, clinical assessments, and innovative treatments for this debilitating disorder, Columbia Ophthalmology established the Glaucoma Research Fund. Our research is the key to helping better manage this eye disease and to developing new and more effective treatments for individuals afflicted with the disease. A donation to the Glaucoma Research Fund will help to facilitate our pioneering efforts in glaucoma research initiatives and clinical practice, and will enable us to enhance our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent glaucoma, alleviating the suffering of our numerous glaucoma patients.
Corneal Research Fund
Corneal diseases comprise a wide spectrum of visual impairment, from such common conditions as corneal scratches and dry eye syndrome, as well as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Our distinguished cornea specialists treat these conditions through non-invasive and non-surgical treatments. However, in more advanced cases of corneal diseases, such as keratitis, corneal dystrophy, and keratoconus surgical intervention is often required. Our specialists in their research endeavors are focusing on the development of non-surgical and non-invasive treatment for these degenerative corneal diseases with particular emphasis on keratoconus through the establishment of the Keratoconus Treatment and Research Center. A donation to the Clinical Research Fund will aid the research and subsequent clinical trials for corneal diseases and disorders, with a focus on keratoconus.
Neuro-ophthalmology is a subspecialty of both ophthalmology and neurology that explores visual disturbances that result from disorders of the central nervous system. Therefore, neuro-ophthalmology’s main focus is on the relationship between the eye and the brain: how exactly neurological disorders impact how the brain perceives vision, controls eye movements, and responds to visual stimuli. Our mission at Columbia Ophthalmology involves patient care, educational training, and research, three components essential to the study of neuro-ophthalmology. The Neuro-Ophthalmology Fund supports research, educational initiatives, and clinical trials for neuro-ophthalmological disorders. A donation to the Neuro-Ophthalmology Fund will help finance research and clinical trials to help combat these challenging brain and eye disorders, as well as enhance our ability to diagnose and treat neuro-ophthalmological disorders, making cures for many conditions ever more possible.
Pediatric Ophthalmology Research Fund
Here at Columbia Ophthalmology, we have expanded the scope of pediatric ophthalmology services in the last few years through faculty recruitment and the opening of two sites dedicated to serving children’s vision needs: the Burch Family Eye Center located near Lincoln Center and the Stephen Ross Pediatric Ophthalmology Center situated within the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, in Washington Heights. At these centers, our pediatric ophthalmologists treat a wide range of ophthalmic diseases and disorders. The Pediatric Ophthalmology Research Fund supports the development of our research initiatives, clinical treatments, and surgical and therapeutic interventions, as well as the training of future pediatric ophthalmologists. A donation to the fund would advance our research initiatives into early detection and screening for pediatric ophthalmic diseases as well as provide support for the acquisition of the latest diagnostic equipment and our educational activities.
Eye Institute Special Gift Fund
This fund is an unrestricted account used in support of educational purposes and general research activities taking place in Columbia Ophthalmology.
New Vision Care Centers
We have recently expanded access to basic clinical services and diagnostics to more patients throughout the greater New York City area. In spring 2010, we opened a modern, state-of-the-art facility at 880 Third Avenue, and in spring 2014, another such facility on the west side of Manhattan, located at 15 West 65th Street within the Lighthouse Guild International headquarters. Currently, our plans include the establishment of a facility in Westchester near NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, and the expansion of retina services to Bergen County in New Jersey. Funds will be needed in the development and construction of these new sites.