$2 Million Gift in Gold Bullion to Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Medicine Creates Prize for Ending Blindness by 2020
Echoing the race to put a man on the moon, a group of prominent donors today asked leaders of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute to accept $2 million in gold bullion, and award it to the person, team or enterprise that does the most to end blindness by the year 2020.
The donors, led by Sanford Greenberg, chairman of the Wilmer Eye Institute's Board of Governors, also include his former Columbia University college roommates Jerry I. Speyer, a real estate mogul, and Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, poet and Golden Globe-nominated actor Arthur "Art" Garfunkel. In announcing The Sanford and Susan Greenberg Prize to End Blindness by 2020, Greenberg said it fulfills a lifelong promise he made lying on a hospital bed at age 19, blinded by glaucoma, to do all he could to end blindness.
"Sandy Greenberg and the rest of our board have put a breathtaking challenge before us and ophthalmologists worldwide," said Peter McDonnell, M.D., director and William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. "While Sandy is bold, he is far from rash, and his monumental goal is indeed attainable."
According to terms of the gift, the Wilmer Eye Institute will hold the funds, convene an advisory committee and manage the nomination and award process. The donors will have seats on the committee, but will not hold a majority vote. The recipient of the Greenberg Prize will be chosen by an independent Governing Council, members of which include former Johns Hopkins University president William Brody, M.D., former Wilmer director, Morton F. Goldberg, M.D., and McDonnell, Speyer and Greenberg.
The prize itself will be presented on December 13, 2020, to the person or group deemed most responsible for ending blindness. That date is 2,978 days from today’s announcement, the same amount of time between President John F. Kennedy’s call to land a man on the moon and Neil Armstrong’s first steps there.
According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are responsible for more than 22 million cases of blindness, glaucoma for six million cases, and age-related macular degeneration for approximately four million cases worldwide. Approximately 80 percent of blindness occurs in people over 50 years of age.
For additional information:
The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins
End Blindness by 2020
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John M. Lazarou
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