UI holds naming ceremony for vision institute

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 21, 2013 5:00 AM

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In honor of a $25 million gift commitment, University of Iowa President Sally Mason resided over the official naming of the Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research.

Wynn is the chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. He was honored for his charitable donation in a ceremony on Oct. 18 in the Prem Sahai Auditorium of the UI Medical Education and Research Facility. The institute named for Wynn is dedicated to research for curing human blindness and is composed of three major areas: genetic testing, gene therapy and patient-derived stem cell research.

Mason said she never thought she would be able to say, “we will cure blindness” and with the investment, hopes the UI will change the lives of people in the coming years and into future generations.

“Today marks a unique and exciting turning point to advancing our research in treatments for eye disease at an even faster pace,” she said. 

At the ceremony, Wynn said his dedication to the institute was stimulated by the idea of bringing happiness to other people.

“The only true happiness in this life will be the certainty that you have made a better life for other people,” he said. “I have to thank this University [as] it made me feel like I’m [helping others].”

The ceremony also marked the announcement of the Steven W. Dezii Translational Research Facility in honor of Steven W. Dezii, the director of the Stephen A. Wynn Foundation.

The facility is the only lab of its kind in the world completely dedicated to the production of gene and cell-based therapeutics for the treatment of blinding eye diseases. Dezii has been dedicated to vision philanthropy for the past 30 years.

“Everyone is looking to see what is going to happen and I think in the next couple of years, we will be the clinic we will be treating people,” Dezii said.

Jean Robillard, the UI vice president for Medical Affairs, said the UI is fortunate to have the Carver College of Medicine to help attract the researchers and resources to the UI in order to eventually cure human blindness.

“We are going to accomplish something that has never been accomplished before,” Ranvard said. “This gift gave us strength to work on blindness and thanks to exceptional partners … who helped the UI ensure that the UI will be able to conduct vision research to whole new level.”

— by Michelle Kim

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