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Duke Trustees Give Go-Ahead to Eye Research Institute

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke University Board of Trustees gave the go-ahead Saturday to construct the Albert Eye Research Institute, to be located next to the Duke Eye Center on Erwin Road.

The new $24 million institute will provide critically needed space (72,000 gross square feet) to house additional ophthalmology investigators and state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, said David Epstein, M.D., director of the Eye Center. The institute will take the lead at Duke in translating a new understanding of genomics and the molecular biology of the eye into cures for eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, Epstein said.

The institute is named for Ruth and the late Herman Albert of Purchase, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla., whose $11.5 million gift to Duke last year included $8 million for the institute. The Alberts both served on the Duke Eye Center's advisory board, and Ruth continues her involvement on the board today. Herman Albert, a manufacturing executive who died last June, also served on the Medical Center's board of visitors and the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center's advisory board.

The science of genomics opens new doors in the search for treatments and cures for a myriad of diseases, including serious eye diseases, said Ralph Snyderman, M.D., chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of the Duke University Health System. "Advances in molecular biology and biotechnologies will lead to major innovations in eye research," he said. "The encouragement and resources that Hy and Ruth have provided will spur on Duke to new insights and advances in the quest to eliminate eye diseases."

The board also gave the go-ahead to study a possible site for and design of a second medical sciences research building at Duke. The project, which must receive additional board approval before construction could begin, would provide additional research space for the School of Medicine -- in particular for the Cancer Center, Nutrition Center, Department of Molecular Genetics and Department of Microbiology.

The original Medical Sciences Research Building, which opened in 1995, is part of the Cancer Center. Scientists there conduct research into gene therapy technology to fight cancer and AIDS, and into other areas of science.

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