November 1, 2011

Donors Make the Difference Resident Class of 2011 Pledges Support for Residency ProgramThe six residents who graduated in June 2011 from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences program announced a group pledge of $3,000 to support resident education at the June 24th Alumni/Resident Day.

Dr. Javaneh Abbasian, Co-Chief Resident, made the surprise announcement with her classmates at her side.  “We wish to thank the faculty who have done so much to help prepare us for our future,” she said.  “We are very grateful for the wonderful experiences we have shared at UIC.”

The 2011 graduating class also includes:  Clement Chow MD, Co-Chief Resident; Genie Bang MD, Sing Your Li MD, Roshni Vasaiwala MD, and Jessica Wong MD.   Following graduation, Dr. Chow started his Retina Fellowship at UIC; Dr. Vasaiwala also is staying at UIC to complete a Cornea Fellowship.  Dr. Abbasian began a fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Dr. Bang also is specializing in pediatric ophthalmology and started a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.   Dr. Wong began a Glaucoma Fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Dr. Li entered private practice as a comprehensive ophthalmologist with University Eye Specialists in Warsaw, NY.

“We are proud of our residents and confident of their future success, and we are also deeply touched by their generosity.  The Class of 2011 joins the loyal and committed alumni whose philanthropy ensures the excellence of our department on every level,” said Dr. Dimitri Azar, Head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Interim Dean of the College of Medicine.
In Memory of Our Good and Caring Friend, Marie E. Wilkinson

Marie E. Wilkinson, a generous donor to the Illinois Eye Fund since 1988 when she made her initial gift in memory of her late husband, Herbert Wilkinson, passed away this past June.  She was 100 years old.  Herbert passed away in June 1988.
Marie and Herbert Wilkinson were partners in life in every way including their philanthropy.  Herbert was a long time executive with Abbott Laboratories where he began his career in 1930.   He was president and director of Abbot Laboratories.  He retired in 1971 and then served as president of the Board of the Clara Abbott Foundation and as vice president of the Abbott Laboratories Fund.
Marie and Herbert met in Cincinnati and moved to Chicago when he joined Abbott.  They settled in Lake Forest in 1957 and had three children, Carol Keenan of Chicago, Janet W. (Thomas M.) Leopold of Winnetka, and the late Herbert S. Wilkinson, Jr.   Marie also leaves two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Herbert Wilkinson’s association with the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences started in the late 1980’s as a patient.  His philanthropy started soon afterwards, and he became deeply committed to the Department and its research and patient care programs.  Upon his death, Marie continued Herbert’s devotion to the Department for another 20 years through continued philanthropy supporting a variety of research programs and equipment purchases.

Marie Wilkinson trained as a nurse as a young woman and did part of her medical training in Appalachia.  She was passionate about helping others and making a difference.  As an avid gardener, she loved to see things grow and develop.  Her desire to help others was demonstrated also by her volunteer activities with several organizations including her church, the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest and the Boarder Babies program in Chicago.

According to Patricia Wager, former executive director of development at the University of Illinois Medical Center who worked with Mrs. Wilkinson since the late 1980’s, “Helping people was a central part of Mrs. Wilkinson’s life.  She demonstrated this wonderful quality through her contributions to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences to support eye research for 25 years in memory of her husband.  These gifts were instrumental in helping the researchers develop new treatments and cures for eye disease and blindness.  The positive impact of Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson’s generosity is felt by patients now and in the future who will benefit from this research.  Their legacy of helping lives on.”

Among the research programs that received support from Mrs. Wilkinson’s generous donations to the Illinois Eye Fund are the Photoreceptor Research Laboratory directed by David Pepperberg, Ph.D., the Ocular Virology Research Laboratory directed by Deepak Shukla, Ph.D., and the Retinal Circulation and Metabolism Laboratory directed by Norman Blair, M.D.  Most recently, research funding has been provided to one of the Department’s young clinician scientists. Soledad Cortina, M.D.  Dr. Cortina’s research focuses on the study of corneal nerves and possible treatments that will speed corneal nerve recovery.  In addition, Marie’s gifts made possible the acquisition of a state of the art instrument to rapidly measure the concentration of proteins and other biomolecules in a variety of basic science experiments.  The ForteBio’s new Octet RED96 system will foster new vision science discoveries.
“These are just a few examples of the important vision research activity that has been greatly aided by Marie Wilkinson’s generosity,” stated Dr. Dimitri Azar, Interim Dean of the College of Medicine, B.A. Field Endowed Chair of Ophthalmologic Research and Professor and Head, of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.  “Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson understood that research in vision and ophthalmology would improve the quality of care and quality of life for everyone suffering from vision loss or blindness, today and for generations to come.  We are deeply indebted to them.” 

The Illinois Eye Fund provides support for research, education and patient care at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary.  The Infirmary leads in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of the most serious and complicated ophthalmologic cases.  To make a gift, click here or call 312-996-6590.

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