Two gifts totaling $7.5 million from the late philanthropist John S. Wold and family will help establish a new macular degeneration center at the OHSU Casey Eye Institute.
“The Wold family’s generous investment will accelerate and build on Casey’s decades of research in macular degeneration. We are incredibly grateful for their support,” said David Wilson, M.D., director of the Casey Eye Institute and Thiele-Petti chair of ophthalmology in the OHSU School of Medicine.
The Wold Foundation of Wyoming announced today a gift of $2.5 million to help in OHSU’s fight against macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult blindness in the United States.
Combined with $5 million that John S. Wold donated in 2015, the Wold Foundation's gift will build and support the Wold Family Macular Degeneration Center. The center will be part of a new 60,000-square-foot building being built next to the existing OHSU Casey Eye Institute facility. The new building will open in 2020.
The Wold Family Macular Degeneration Center will allow OHSU to expand its pioneering work in researching and developing new ways to treat and eventually cure macular degeneration. The center will create a collaborative space featuring today's most advanced scientific technology and bring together OHSU macular degeneration physicians and researchers with expertise in the areas of genomics, as well as gene and stem cell therapy. The center also will transform patient care, bringing state-of-the-art clinical services together in one building instead of spread across OHSU’s campuses.
John S. Wold, who died in 2017 at age 100, was a businessman, geologist, inventor and former U.S. congressman. He suffered from age-related macular degeneration for the last 20 years of his life. His family has strong roots in Oregon. His father and five aunts grew up across the street from the University of Oregon in Eugene, and earned their degrees there.
Wold's daughter, Priscilla Wold Longfield of Portland, is a member of the OHSU Foundation Board of Trustees and an officer of the Wold Foundation, along with her brothers, Peter and Jack Wold. Peter Wold is CEO of Wold Oil Properties of Casper, Wyoming. Jack Wold is CEO of Wold Energy Partners, based in Denver.
“Our father was a maverick and an innovator. He never stopped thinking about how he could contribute to making the world a better place,” said Wold Longfield. “Macular degeneration significantly impacted his life but didn’t dampen his spirit. If anything, his condition made him even more committed to fighting this insidious disease. We can think of no better way to honor his legacy than to support Casey’s groundbreaking work in finding a cure for macular degeneration.”
Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of a small central area of the retina, called the macula. People with macular degeneration may first experience wavy or blurred vision, but can, eventually lose all sight in the center of their vision.
More than 2.2 million people in the U.S. have advanced forms of macular degeneration, often called age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, because it occurs and worsens as people age. As the population continues to live longer, the incidence will rise.
The OHSU Casey Eye Institute has one of the world’s elite teams of researchers and clinical care experts fighting AMD. It has developed a worldwide reputation for its cutting-edge research. Many OHSU scientists focus on decoding the genetic underpinnings of the disease so that therapies can be developed to treat and ultimately prevent it.