Recent Research Strides Reviewed and Scientific Director Announced at Milestone Celebration
Tampa, Fla. (July 17, 2013) – The Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research recently held its 40th anniversary celebration, in which LEITR leaders reviewed the organization’s rich legacy, groundbreaking research strides and its vision for the future. Community leaders, employees and research partners joined the event at LEITR’s Ybor City headquarters, where attendees also welcomed LEITR’s new scientific director.
Four decades ago, Lions Club International members founded LEITR to lead the evaluation and distribution of eye tissue for transplantation. What started as an eye bank has now transformed into a leading research model unlike anything else in the world. LEITR is currently the world’s only combined ocular research center and eye bank.
“Having our eye bank and ocular research center located in the same building has been an invaluable differentiator for our organization,” said Jason Woody, president and CEO of LEITR. “This model allows researchers 24/7 access to ocular tissue, which means better results for research and transplantation.”
LEITR also welcomed its new scientific director, Dr. Mitch McCartney. Dr. McCartney has 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, focusing on ophthalmic diseases. He previously led initiatives within premier research institutions, such as Alcon Laboratories and the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research.
“LEITR has made some significant research strides over the past years and I believe that is just the beginning,” said Dr. McCartney. “LEITR’s model offers incredible opportunities for ocular research, and I look forward to bringing an added research perspective to the team.”
During the celebration, Dr. McCartney reviewed LEITR’s two large, groundbreaking research developments. This includes the completion of pre-loaded EndoGlide™ cartridges that will make corneal surgeries more efficient. Additionally, Dr. McCartney discussed LEITR’s involvement in showing that the pharmacological dilation of pupils is possible after death. This will be useful in evaluating eyes with limited clinical history and open windows for research of various ocular diseases.
Foundation Director Kelley Sims also reviewed the foundation’s success in helping to give the gift of sight to more than 55,000 men, women and children throughout the world. The foundation also helps donate nearly $1 million annually in needed eye tissue to help the blind and visually impaired throughout the world. Because of generous gifts designated specifically for research, the foundation has also set aside over $250,000 for future scientific projects.
The celebration closed with Woody explaining LEITR’s vision for the future.
“In the next 12 months, we will invest more than $300,000 in staff and equipment to make our laboratory state of the art,” said Woody. “We intend to be the new pioneers of ocular research.”
About the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research (LEITR)
The Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research, Inc., (LEITR) is a nonprofit, charitable organization dedicated to the recovery, evaluation and distribution of eye tissue for transplantation, research and education. LEITR’s Eye Bank, located in Tampa, Fla., is the only combined eye bank and ocular research center in the world. Since its inception, it has brought the “Gift of Sight” to more than 55,000 men, women and children worldwide. For more information, visit www.lionseyeinstitute.org.