A Philadelphia philanthropic couple donated $5 million to Wills Eye Hospital, on top of a previous $2 million gift in 2015, to further vision research, the hospital announced Thursday.
Vickie and Jack Farber made the donation to expand upon the hospital’s center for ophthalmologic care, supporting initiatives in data mining and analytics, tele-ophthalmology, expanded community-based research, and the creation of a new clinical trials unit, among other goals.
“It’s like the Fourth of July and Christmas and Thanksgiving and your birthday, all rolled into one,” Julia Haller, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye, said of the gift.
The hospital will rename the 15th floor of its Center City building the Vickie and Jack Farber Vision Research Center at Wills Eye. The new center will work in conjunction with the Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Thomas Jefferson University.
The largest impact of the donation will show up in the form of personnel.
“This is going to be an opportunity for us to recruit some of the best and brightest in a very strategic fashion so we can make the most of the money,” Haller said.
Haller said the Farbers have been good partners to Wills Eye because they understand the impact that vision has on overall health.
“To have people who are a great Philadelphia couple, who also understand the challenges of health care and really want to partner in the most transformational way possible, they’re extraordinary,” Haller said.
The study of many eye diseases, and related neurological diseases, is especially important to Vickie Farber, whose father died of ALS and whose mother died of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Wills Eye is a great institution with incredibly talented people who are motivated, forward-thinking, and committed to advancing scientific knowledge,” Jack Farber said in the news release. “If you put those energies together with financial support to accelerate the rate of progress, you truly make a difference in patients’ lives.” Haller hopes that the flagship gift will pave the way for others to donate.
“A lot of people take Wills for granted,” Haller said. “They think it’ll always be there, but it won’t if people don’t support it and understand how important it is.”