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The John A. Moran Eye Center Approved for New Vision Institute

SALT LAKE CITY –The John A. Moran Eye Center (JMEC) announces the formation of The Vision Institute. The establishment of The Vision Institute bridges research efforts across University of Utah colleges and departments to enhance and broaden the area of translational medicine. This team approach into the study of diseases will help turn research discoveries into drugs and medical devices that benefit patients.

“The Vision Institute creates an environment for sciences to work together and connects research throughout the campus,” says Randall J Olson, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the U of U and CEO of JMEC.

Forming The Vision Institute includes the establishment of the Moran Center for Translational Medicine. “Our goal is the acceleration of the translation of basic scientific discoveries to clinically effective diagnostics and therapies for the treatment of devastating eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, as well as other diseases with shared etiologies,” Olson said.

Gregory Hageman, Ph.D., professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, who recently came to JMEC from the University of Iowa, leads the Moran Center for Translational Medicine. “Research activities must reach the ‘marketplace’ to have an impact on patient care. Developing partnerships through The Vision Institute is key to making this happen and they will help us to develop coordinated strategies and provide a thorough understanding of disease biology,” says Hageman.   

Worldwide research, along with findings from JMEC indicates many of the most serious blinding diseases are often accompanied by the presence of a distinct set of coexisting or additional diseases, called comorbidities. Genetic study of the various diseases and their respective comorbidities shows diseases of the eye often affect multiple organ systems, rather than being limited to ocular tissues. To understand these diseases JMEC works with a variety of other research disciplines and clinical specialties.

“The scope of research and technical expertise in the JMEC now far transcends the study of vision and extends into systemic disease biology, cancer research, brain plasticity, gene therapies, new imaging technologies and new molecular tools. The collaborative relationships of our faculty range from physics and computer sciences to bioengineering and infectious diseases. It is fitting to encompass this ever-broadening scientific horizon in The Vision Institute, with its far larger scientific and translational missions," said Robert Marc, Ph.D., Director of Research at JMEC.

The Vision Institute Mission Statement: The Vision Institute at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah is dedicated to serving our patients and the greater public health community by creating a broad-based organization focused on clinical care, care-giver education, and basic and translation research. Using a multidisciplinary approach we encourage learning from our patients and using that knowledge to create effective educational and research programs with the goal of creating new, widely available treatments for diseases shared by our patients and the global health community.

About the John A. Moran Eye Center

The John A. Moran Eye Center is committed to the goal that no person with a blinding condition, eye disease or visual impairment should be without hope, understanding, and treatment. The Moran Eye Center is home to more than 50 faculty members, including one of the top retinal research teams in the world. Moran researchers are largely funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and are involved in more than 50 active clinical trials. Each year, Moran hosts more than 120,000 clinic visits, including more than 7,000 surgeriesOphthalmologists at the Moran Eye Center are highly involved in international outreach and perform multiple medical missions throughout the world every year.  

About Randall J Olson, M.D.

Randall J Olson, M.D. is the CEO of the John A. Moran Eye Center. A specialist in the research of intra-ocular lens complications, teleophthalmology, and corneal transplantation techniques, he is the author of more than 300 professional publications and is a worldwide lecturer. He was selected as one of the 15 best cataract surgeons in the United States in a peer survey conducted by Ophthalmology Times. Cataract and Refractive Surgery Today also named Dr. Olson one of 50 international opinion leaders. He has appeared in the last three editions of Best Doctors in America.

About Robert Marc, Ph.D. 

Robert Marc, Ph.D. is a Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Director of Research at the John A. Moran Eye Center. He joined the research faculty of the Moran Eye Center in 1993. Dr. Marc’s early research provided the first maps of the different color varieties of photoreceptors in the retina. It is now clear that it is this unique pattern of color sensitive cones which dictates many features of perception of color and form. After 30 years of continuous NIH funding, Dr. Marc’s laboratory now exploits advanced molecular detection, imaging and computational technologies to produce new, richer visualizations of neurons and how they are connected.

 About  Gregory Hageman, Ph.D.

Gregory S. Hageman, Ph.D. is the John A. Moran Presidential Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Director of the Moran Center for Translational Medicine at the John Moran Eye Center. He is an author of more than 100 refereed publications, and an inventor on multiple issued patents. He has presented a number of plenary and named lectureships, including the Ashton Eponymous, LuEster Mertz, Bradley R. Straatsma, Ashton, Joseph M. Bryan, Walter R. Stafford, James A. Craig and Jonathan Bok Memorial lectures.

 Hageman’s primary research interest during the past 20 years has been directed toward assessment of pathways involved in the etiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of irreversible worldwide blindness.