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UC Irvine dedicates new eye institute site

When completed, the $31 million, 60,000-square-foot facility will boost ophthalmologic care, research in the county.

By Kristen SchottPublished: October 28, 2010 10:08 AM

Courtesy of UCI
The UC Irvine School of Medicine on Friday will dedicate the site for its planned Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, and it's well on its way to raising the funds it needs to build the $31 million facility.

When completed, the 60,000-square-foot project, which will be part of UCI's ophthalmology department, is expected to bolster the university's global status in eye care and research.

The institute will be home to the only academic eye research facility between San Diego and Los Angeles, according to UCI.

"We're dedicated to meeting the community's needs and elevating the level of eye care in Orange County to the best anywhere, nationally or internationally," said Dr. Roger Steinert, professor and chairman of ophthalmology, and founding director of the institute.

The project will include state-of-the-art patient exam and waiting areas, an outpatient surgery center, optical shop, and faculty office and conference space.

The new facility also will allow for closer collaboration with the institute's basic research team – which will move from their current location at UCI Medical Center in Orange to nearby Hewitt Hall – and the university's ophthalmologic physicians, professors and clinicians.

Meanwhile, UCI has raised two-thirds of the funds needed to build the center, thanks to a multimillion-dollar contribution from institute namesake Gavin Herbert, the founder and former CEO of Irvine-based Allergan, and his mother Josephine Gleis. Herbert, a friend of founding UCI Chancellor Daniel Aldrich Jr., helped establish the institution's ophthalmology department and recruit its first professor and chairman.

"We’re building something special,” said Herbert.

Other project supporters include the Allergan Foundation, Abbott Medical Optics, Kelly and Jim Mazzo, Bill and Marsha Link, and the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation.

“This is something I’ve talked about for more than 30 years," finished Herbert, "and there’s certainly a need in Orange County for such a center.”

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