A New Language of Hope: Dedicating the Glick Eye Institute

Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute Dedication
IUPUI Campus Center, Room 450
Indianapolis, Indiana
August 19, 2011

Introduction: The Language of Impairment

To many of us, words like glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, corneal decompensation, and amblyopia sound like a new foreign language. Unfortunately, these are familiar phrases to millions of patients and their families across the country and to the researchers who are working every day in the search for new treatments and cures.

Today, as we dedicate the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute, we celebrate those researchers who are working together to create a new language of treatments and cures that will preserve sight and transform lives.

According to a recent study, blindness affects well over 3 million Americans over 40, or about 1 in 28.1 Every 11 minutes, an American goes blind.2 A 2007 study estimates that costs associated with adult vision problems in the United States amount to $51.4 billion annually,3 and those costs only hint at the emotional toll such impairment can take on an individual, a family, and even a community.4 These figures suggest the urgency behind the search for treatments and cures for diseases of the eye.

A History of Discovery

For over 100 years, researchers in the Indiana University Department of Ophthalmology have been leading that search. During that time, they have revolutionized the treatment of retinal diseases; have recognized the critical role of ocular blood flow; have established links between contagious diseases and visual impairment; have advanced the science of corneal transplantation; have created one of the largest pediatric ophthalmology services in the country. And this list could go on.

IU researchers have developed instruments to measure blood flow within the eye, to measure the thickness of nerve layers, and to measure ocular oxygen levels.They use lasers, ultrasound, and other technologies to reveal the inner landscapes of our eyes.

The department has trained about half of the practicing ophthalmologists in the state of Indiana, and clinical faculty members see more than 27,000 patients each year. Earlier today, the second annual vision research symposium attracted over 100 attendees from across the state. In just its second year, this symposium is already one of the largest such meetings in the United States outside of large international research meetings. In addition, researchers from as far away as Japan and Sweden turn to IU’s Department of Ophthalmology for expert advice.

The Architecture of Art and Science

The magnificent new facility that we are dedicating today extends the great history of this department just as it will help our faculty continue to unravel the mysteries of the human eye. That history goes back to a small two-room clinic and includes a veterans’ hospital, a children’s hospital, a general city hospital, and the old Rotary building, all of which the department has called home over the years. The new Glick Eye Institute brings clinicians, patients, and researchers from laboratories and offices across the IU School of Medicine together for the first time to generate the synergy of innovation.

Just one look at the building tells you what a special place this will be.  

The south façade is a work of art in and of itself reminiscent of Mondrian in glass. And just east of the building is sculptor Don Gummer’s remarkable new work Open Eyes, which we will unveil in just a moment.  Inside of the building is equally impressive with ultra-clear glass and thirty-eight works of art by Indiana artists, including Marilyn Glick’s daughter Marianne. Marilyn, herself, has given two pieces of art glass from her own superb collection to be displayed in the institute’s second floor lobby. All of this represents the great importance of the clear vision that those working within this building seek to preserve.

Honoring the Glick Family

But this building represents much more. It represents the remarkable generosity of the Glick family to whom we are deeply grateful. Gene and Marilyn Glick have dedicated themselves to improving this community through their service and through generous gifts to organizations ranging from the Indiana Historical Society to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, from the Indianapolis Museum of Art to United Way.

Their generosity has been a transformative element at Indiana University where they join families like the Lillys, the Krannerts, Simons, Eskanazis, and the Longs, whose names will forever be woven into the fabric of this great university.

This gift also represents Mrs. Glick’s nearly three decades of dedication as a vocal and influential advocate for enhancing vision research and care throughout the state.

In many ways, this building serves as a symbolic reminder of all of the Glick’s philanthropic endeavors: their commitment to preventing blindness, their dedication to the artistic community, and their support for historical preservation.

Marilyn, on behalf of Indiana University, please accept our deepest gratitude for your generosity.

Testimony to Leadership

Let me also acknowledge the energy, focus, and drive of a number of other people. First, I would like to thank dean of the IU School of Medicine Craig Brater, who has been one of the staunchest and most effective advocates for the School of Medicine during his tenure. I would also like to recognize Chancellor Charles Bantz for his leadership of the IUPUI campus and his strong support for the health and life sciences.

And I would be remiss if I failed to offer special thanks to Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology Lou Cantor and also to his wife Linda, director of development for the Glick Eye Institute. They both are very quick to recognize the many people who have helped us reach this day and those who will be required to move this project forward in the future, but they, too, have been deeply involved in this project from the outset and tireless in their support. In fact, I understand that Linda took it upon herself to call the state fire marshal and Homeland Security to make sure that the elevators in the new building were inspected, approved, and operational for us today.  Would you please help me thank Lou and Linda for their great efforts?

Conclusion: A New Language of Hope

At the news conference announcing their gift, Gene Glick described it as a tribute to his grandmother and father both of whom had bad eyes, and Marilyn may remember her own words on that occasion.  She said to the researchers in the audience, “I want at least one breakthrough in causes of blindness to be found at the Glick Institute, and you guys better work at it."

That is the spirit behind this building. It pushes all of us to achieve our best, to work together towards innovation and discovery, and to harness what is best in ourselves to help create a new language of hope for others.

Source Notes

  1. The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group. “Causes and Prevalence of Visual Impairment Among Adults in the United States.” Archives of Ophthalmology 122.4 (2004): 477-85. From page 477. In 2005, the National Eye Institute estimated the annual cost of vision impairment to be approximately $60 billion (direct and indirect costs including transportation, lost work. . . .), so the $51.4 billion is actually conservative. <http://bert.lib.indiana.edu:2935/cgi/reprint/122/4/477>
  2. Prevent Blindness America. http://preventblindness.org Accessed 4 Oct. 2008.
  3. Prevent Blindness America. “Vision Problems in the U.S.: Prevalence of Adult Vision Impairment and Age-Related Eye Disease in America: 2008 Update to the Fourth Edition.” 2008
  4. See for instance, Psychosomatics 40:4, July-August 1999, “Blindness, Fear of Sight Loss, and Suicide” ( 339-44). < http://psy.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/reprint/40/4/339.pdf> accessed October 5, 2008.