Mass. Eye and Ear and Schepens Eye Research Institute to Become World’s Largest Ophthalmology Research Center

June 08, 2011


Union will rapidly advance cures for blinding diseases

Contact: Mary Leach

Boston (June 8, 2011) – The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Schepens Eye Research Institute announced today that they are combining forces to create the world’s largest and most robust basic and clinical ophthalmology research enterprise with full spectrum bench-to-bedside research that will translate more quickly into better treatment for blinding diseases and ultimately cures.

Effective June 30, Schepens Eye Research Institute, the largest independent ophthalmology research institute in the United States, will become a part of Mass. Eye and Ear, under the direction of the Mass. Eye and Ear Board of Directors. Mass. Eye and Ear is an academic medical center providing clinical care, conducting eye research and educating eye specialists. Schepens will remain a non-profit and retain its name.

“It is a bad day for blindness,” said Wycliffe “Wyc” Grousbeck, Chairman of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Board of Directors. “This creates a powerhouse in vision research that we are confident will accelerate the eradication of blinding diseases.”

Mass. Eye and Ear and Schepens Eye Research Institute have long traditions of clinical and research excellence. Their areas of expertise and technology are complementary and will be strengthened by this collaboration. Basic research at Schepens Eye Research Institute and clinical research at Mass. Eye and Ear will be enriched by each other’s respective strengths.

“Together we will cover the spectrum of scientific disciplines and eye diseases,” said Joan W. Miller, M.D., Chief of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “Mass. Eye and Ear has strong research programs in retina, glaucoma and genomics. Schepens Eye Research Institute is a world leader in ocular surface disease, immunology, stem cell therapies, regeneration, and mobility rehabilitation. Working together we will provide an even stronger basic and translational science engine with a powerful clinical team to produce an environment that is primed to solve the problems of and find cures for blinding eye diseases.”

Both Schepens Eye Research Institute and Mass. Eye and Ear are Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates and train the clinical and research specialists of tomorrow. They will both be located on one campus in the heart of downtown Boston.

“This scientifically rich and diverse alliance will have a powerful impact on our ability to attract the best and the brightest young scientists as well as encourage other seasoned world-class eye researchers to join us in our fight to eradicate these devastating diseases. And it will increase our joint capacity to obtain funding from federal and industry sources,” said Kenneth Fischer, President and COO of Schepens Eye Research Institute.

“Joining forces into a single entity will no doubt deepen collaborations across the basic and clinical sciences, ultimately opening up new doors for attacking diseases that cause blindness,” said Jeffrey S. Flier, M.D., Dean of the Harvard Medical School.

About Schepens: Founded in 1950 by Dr. Charles Schepens, the father of modern retinal surgery, Schepens Eye Research Institute boasts scientific staff of 200, representing nearly every specialty in eye research. In their laboratories, Schepens scientists are dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of the human eye, the causes of disease and potential treatments. Publishing nearly 100 scientific papers each year, Schepens has been a major recipient of NIH funding for eye research. An affiliate of Harvard Medical School, Schepens has been the largest independent eye research institute in the nation.

About the Mass. Eye and Ear/Mass General Department of Ophthalmology: The Department is one of the world's premier centers for excellence in ophthalmic clinical care, research and education. Steadfast dedication to an integrated three-part mission keeps the Department at the forefront of advances in patient care and scientific discovery, while training and advancing generations of leaders through our academic and professional development programs. As the seat of Ophthalmology leadership for Harvard Medical School, the Department builds on the strengths of affiliated faculty from such renowned local institutions as Joslin Diabetes Center, Children's Hospital Boston, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston Veteran's Administration Healthcare System to encourage innovation and remain a global leader in ophthalmology.

The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is an international center for treatment and research and a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. For more information, call 617-523-7900 or TDD 617-523-5498 or visit