A $500,000 endowed research professorship created in honor of the co-founder of Oakland University’s Eye Research Institute has seen its first awardee.
Andrew Goldberg, professor of biomedical sciences, has been granted the Alvira M. and Venkat N. Reddy Endowed Research Professorship in Eye Research. He’ll use the funds to study causes and potential cures for eye diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.
“One of the questions that has to be addressed to develop better treatments is how rods and cones (in the eye) maintain their shape,” Goldberg said. “They have a very specific geometry, and diseases can disrupt it, which ultimately results in vision loss.”
The professorship gets its name from Venkat Reddy, and his wife Alvira,, who co-founded the eye institute in 1968 with V. Everett Kinsey, one of the preeminent eye researches in the U.S.
Reddy died last year at the age of 95 as a distinguished professor of biomedical sciences with numerous awards throughout his 50-year career, such as the Friedenwald Award in ophthalmology. His research was funded by the National Eye Institute for more than 40 years.
Reddy also served as director of the eye institute from 1975 to 1997.
“He was very excited about the research professorship,” Frank Giblin, director of the eye institute, said. “He was committed to helping the ERI continue into the future, because he and Dr. Kinsey had invested so much energy into seeing it succeed.”
Goldberg and Reddy had a chance to meet in 2008 when Reddy returned to Oakland University as a distinguished professor emeritus.
“Dr. Reddy told me once that he and Dr. Kinsey adopted the mantra ‘It must not fail’ when getting the institute on its feet and seeing it through difficult times,” Goldberg said. “Even after death, he is still engaged through this endowment. Everyone at the ERI plays a part in making sure his mantra and memory live on.”