$1M Gift Establishes Endowed Chair at Akron Children’s

AKRON, Ohio – A $1 million gift from Dr. Robert “Boomer” Burnstine and his wife, Jill Burnstine, will go toward establishing a new endowed chair in pediatric ophthalmology at Akron Children’s Hospital.

The gift will result in the creation of the Dr. Boomer and Jill Burnstine Endowed Chair in Pediatric Ophthalmology, which is the first endowed chair to be established at Akron Children’s by a pediatric physician.

It will provide a sustainable funding source to support research studies and will also deliver financial backing to push the division in new directions, ensuring the hospital’s ongoing leadership in the field.

Burnstine, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Akron Children’s Hospital, has dedicated his career to the care of children’s vision. For over four decades, he has treated children with difficult vision challenges such as nystagmus, an incurable neurological condition characterized by involuntary rapid movement of the eyes. Burnstine was also one of the original 16 investigators worldwide for the drug that eventually became the blockbuster drug Botox.

Jill has been a volunteer and leader on The Women’s Board of Akron Children’s Hospital since 1982. The Burnstines have also been long-standing donors to the hospital’s Vision Center.

“As someone who has been involved in research in ophthalmology, I understand the importance of money to support that work,” said Burnstine. “That’s why we wanted this chair to support the work that will change the future of ophthalmology.”

Dr. Richard Hertle, director of pediatric ophthalmology at Akron Children’s, will be the endowment’s first chairman. He said it will give him the opportunity to expand the department and efficiently continue his research.

“Funding of this type will sustain the legacy of the Vision Center,” said Hertle. “Research can’t be done on service dollars [funding brought in through payment for service]. This type of work must rely on endowments, gifts and grants.”

Hertle said this funding also will play a key role in attracting young researchers to the hospital.

“This money will help support their early research until they are established and able to pursue other funding sources,” he said.

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