Casey Eye Institute Receives One of Nation's Largest Private Gifts to Fight Macular Degeneration

11/21/02    Portland, Ore.

The Oregon Health   Science University Foundation today announced receipt of one of the nation's largest individual private gifts to fight age-related macular degeneration (AMD): $5 million from the estate of Portland philanthropist Bula "Bea" Buck Arveson.

Arveson, who died last year at the age of 98, left $5 million to establish the Bula Buck and Charles C. Arveson Endowment Fund for macular degeneration research at the OHSU Casey Eye Institute. A patient at Casey for more than a decade, Bea Arveson served on the board of its Macular Degeneration Center. Arveson and her two siblings each lost all or part of their eyesight to AMD, a breakdown of the retina common to aging eyes.

"Mrs. Arveson's generous gift will allow us to dramatically accelerate our research," said Michael Klein, M.D., director of the Macular Degeneration Center at Casey and Arveson's physician. "The center has already been instrumental in advances in drug therapy, genetics and nutrition to prevent and treat this disease, but this is the kind of transformative gift that can lead to greater things."

During an interview in 1995, Arveson spoke of her desire to assist researchers in finding a cure for AMD. "Something has to be done, and I think the researchers at OHSU can do it," said Arveson. "I want to help make that possible."

Despite her visual impairment, Arveson led an active life. Born in 1902 to a pioneering family in Idaho Falls, Idaho, she married Charles Arveson in 1925 and moved to Portland, where her husband, who died in 1988, spent 35 years as vice president and western manager of U.S. Epperson Underwriting Company. Arveson devoted much of her time to public service, volunteering for such organizations as Head Start and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. In the early 1930s she was instrumental in getting the first black woman admitted to the nursing program at the University of Oregon Medical School, now the OHSU School of Medicine. She became a patient at Casey in 1992.

AMD is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people older than 65, causing significant sight problems in about 1.7 million Americans. The disease affects the macula, the tiny area of the retina that is responsible for detailed, central vision. The only proven, non-experimental treatments for AMD are two types of laser therapy, but most AMD patients are not candidates for either.

The Casey Eye Institute is a priority of the Oregon Opportunity, OHSU's public/private fund-raising initiative. For more information on giving opportunities at the Casey Eye Institute, contact Christopher Brentlinger, director of development, at 503 494-1313 or e-mail brentlch@ohsu.edu. Visit the Casey Eye Institute Web site at www.ohsuhealth.com/cei/.

###