Hillman Grant for Ophthalmology Center of Excellence

A hand holding a pen on data sheets

The Eye & Ear Foundation has received a $5 million grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation to create a Center of Excellence for Patient-Centered Data Analysis, Clinical Research, and Innovative Methodologies for the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh.

With so many new researchers and clinicians joining the Department and looking to deliver the findings of their work to patients, Dr. José-Alain Sahel, Department Chair, recognized that a core center — focused on biostatistical analysis — is vital to conduct new clinical research, as it is one of the foundations of evidence-based clinical practice.

This new project will build on a previous gift in 2020 from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation toward establishing a patient-centered program in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood to tackle all elements of vision loss. By creating this Center, several milestones are anticipated, including developing a predictive model of progression for age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma; developing and utilizing decision-making algorithms powered by artificial intelligence; quantifying the progression of retinal dystrophies; launching an early-stage clinical trial of two retinal degenerations; and introducing two trials on real-life management of age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.

“Vision loss is a critical, wide-ranging public health issue,” said D. Tyler Gourley, Executive Vice President of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. “Having a better understanding of the factors that lead to vision loss helps create a healthier Pittsburgh. The new Center for Excellence builds on the momentum of Uptown’s life sciences economic development corridor. It allows Dr. Sahel and his colleagues to conduct and collaboratively build upon research that will inform the next generation of treatment for patients experiencing visual disability and vision loss, a win for all Pittsburghers and our neighbors.”