Texas Businessman Gifts $20M To Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—T. Boone Pickens has announced he will gift $20 million to innovative vision research at Johns Hopkins University.

The money will go to the Wilmer Eye Institute at Hopkins in support of potentially vision-saving research.

Pickens, a Texas energy entrepreneur, was a patient at Wilmer. He was treated for cataracts and for macular degeneration.

The latter condition also afflicted his father, who was legally blind by the time he reached Pickens’ age. Pickens is 85.

“I’m doing pretty good,” Pickens said. “When I have a problem — and I do have an eye problem and all — I find the best, and that was Wilmer. It’s part of Johns Hopkins. … It’s the best in ophthalmology, the best school, the best hospital, [and] the best doctors of any other ophthalmology group anywhere in the world.”

Pickens says his vision is now 20/40 or better, a level at which people can continue to read and see details on a computer screen.

Pickens said his gift is included in his estate and will create an endowment to fund a T. Boone Pickens Scholars program, supporting clinician-scientists with promising but innovative ideas for new research avenues.

“What this gift will do is allow us to scour the globe, not just the United States, to find the best and brightest young minds, bring them here as Boone Pickens Scholars, [and] invest in them the resources that will allow them to explore that brilliant idea that, if it pans out, is going to be a game changer,” said Peter McDonnell, the Wilmer Eye Institute director.

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