Groundbreaking Set For Additional Wilmer Eye Institute Building
The historic and top ranked Wilmer Eye Institute will break ground June 6 for a new, $100 million, 200,000-square foot structure to house additional research and clinical facilities across the street from The Institute’s current landmark facility adjacent to the major Johns Hopkins “dome.”
The new building, scheduled for completion in 2009, features a multi-story glass atrium that will reflect the image of the Wilmer’s “mini” dome, symbolically and visually bridging the 83-year-old Institute’s old and new presence on the Hopkins’ East Baltimore campus.
Wilmer’s physicians, nurses and administrators say the new building was designed primarily to foster collaborative research, with such features as “laboratories without walls” that create scientific “neighborhoods.”
“The aim is to get scientists to work closely with one another, share ideas, equipment and expertise and have great flexibility in creating needed research space,” says Peter J. McDonnell, M.D., director of the Wilmer Eye Institute and William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology.
Much of the research that will take place in these labs will focus on age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness for Americans 55 and older. The building also will contain a surgical center, outfitted with the latest and most advanced diagnostic, imaging and documentation equipment.
Wilmer’s faculty of 80 currently conducts $25 million worth of federal and other research and performs more than 8,000 major eye surgeries each year, both inpatient and outpatient.
The new facility is expected to increase access to meet a patient demand for more than 9,000 annual operations. Other clinical services offered at Wilmer include those for cornea, cataract and external eye diseases, eye trauma and emergencies, glaucoma, low vision and visual rehabilitation, and ocular oncology.
Consistently ranked at or near the top of U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of clinical services, Wilmer also is one of the leading eye research institutes in the world. Recently, researchers there were the first to identify one of the Stargardt’s disease genes, develop a laser-based imaging system now commercially available and used world-wide to monitor glaucoma damage, and develop a method to deliver gene therapy to the eye for treating retinal disease.
The new Wilmer building is part of a $1.2 billion Johns Hopkins Medicine campus redevelopment program designed to replace existing, aging structures on the 80-acre campus. The centerpieces of the redevelopment are two new clinical towers, one for cardiovascular and critical care services and one for a children’s hospital.
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