Jefferson Health and Wills Eye Hospital Launch William H. Annesley, Jr., MD '48 EyeBrain Center

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PHILADELPHIA—Jefferson Health and Wills Eye Hospital have launched the world’s first center focused on the connections between the eye and the brain. This center, created by Thomas Jefferson University in partnership with Wills Eye Hospital and thanks to the help of several generous philanthropists, will be the first of its kind to explore the visual signatures of neurological diseases. The center is named in honor of William H. Annesley, Jr, MD, ophthalmology pioneer and Jefferson alumnus and will be housed within Jefferson University’s Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience. Margaret Annesley Hayne was a lead benefactor for the center.

One area of research that The Annesley EyeBrain Center will focus on involves mitochondrial function in the retina. Using a breakthrough technology called Multi-Color Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), researchers will be able to see mitochondrial function disruption before there is cell-death or other disease symptoms. In addition, they will study connections between the retina, optic nerve, and disorders of the brain. This research could lead to developments in detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, stroke and dementia.

Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health said, “At a time when far too many individuals are falling victim to debilitating, incurable disorders of the brain, the Annesley EyeBrain Center will be more than a destination for premier neuro-ophthalmologic research and care—it will serve as a powerful beacon of hope. We are incredibly grateful to Margaret Annesley Hayne and the early philanthropic investors for their visionary support."

Julia A. Haller, MD, the William Tasman, MD endowed chair and ophthalmologist-in-chief of Wills Eye Hospital and professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University said, “As the first center exploring the connections between the retina and disorders of the brain, the Annesley EyeBrain Center will revolutionize ophthalmic and neurological care and establish a new frontier in neuro-ophthalmology.”

Robert H. Rosenwasser, MD, the Jewell L. Osterholm, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University and president, Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience, said, “There are tremendous advantages to creating a Center like this that is the first of its kind. We'll be in a unique position to capitalize on and potentially develop new technologies and techniques. It's an opportunity to innovate and utilize our entrepreneurial expertise."