New vision research lab fulfills local couple’s last wish; Donating more than 1 million dollars

By Simone Alicea

A new vision research laboratory is set to open in Florida in 2015 thanks to the charitable legacy of two deceased West Seattle residents, according to a press release Monday from Research to Prevent Blindness.

Mildred and Clifford Sanders worked for Boeing for many years and spent their retirement years in Alki. Their family announced that their estate would donate over $1 million to various causes, including RPB, last year to fulfill the couple’s last wishes.

RPB used that money to create a $600,000 grant for vision research, which was then awarded to the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. The laboratory will be named the RPB Mildred Krahmer Sanders and William Clifford Sanders Laboratory for Vision Research.

“Research to Prevent Blindness is extremely gratified to have collaborated on this forward-thinking gift from the Sandrs’ Trust,” said RPB Board Chair Diane S. Swift in the release. “We have every confidence that researchers at the University of Florida’s Department of Ophthalmology will take full advantage of this new resource.”

Read the full release below:

Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc. Awards Important Laboratory Grant
to Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida
New York, New York – Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) has awarded a prestigious, one-time laboratory grant of $600,000 to the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida, College of Medicine.

The newly created laboratory will be permanently named the RPB Mildred Krahmer Sanders and William Clifford Sanders Laboratory for Vision Research (“RPB Sanders Laboratory”). RPB is the leading non-government supporter of eye research into cures and treatments for all causes of blindness and vision loss.

The RPB Sanders Laboratory will be used for vision research purposes only, fulfilling the Sanders’ last wishes.

“We are very excited about receiving the RPB Sanders Construction grant,” says William T. Driebe, Professor and Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Florida.  “This laboratory space will significantly enhance our ability to conduct essential research into the basic mechanisms of normal vision and disease, and to develop translational projects that will create new therapies for diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and other retinal degenerations.

The single core lab will house two electrophysiology suites for ultra-sensitive measurements of photoreceptor function in degenerating or rescued retinas, an ocular histology service, confocal and light microscopes, and equipment for testing visual function. Having the faculty in close proximity to the majority of our shared resources will provide more opportunities for interactions between scientific groups.”

“Research to Prevent Blindness is extremely gratified to have collaborated on this forward-thinking gift from the Sanders’ Trust,” says Diane S. Swift, Chair of the Board of RPB. “RPB implemented a highly competitive grant application process for this new lab, and we have every confidence that researchers at the University of Florida’s Department of Ophthalmology will take full advantage of this new resource to possibly produce cures and treatments at a time when more and more people are facing the isolating loss of sight.”

Mildred Jeanette Krahmer Sanders worked for The Boeing Company for 40 years, William as an aerospace engineer and an executive in foreign engineering technology and Mildred in a variety of engineering support activities, ending her career as the librarian and manager of The Boeing Company’s engineering library. The couple were world travelers and had high regard for advanced eye research. The RPB Sanders Laboratory is scheduled to open in 2015.

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled more than $310 million to medical institutions throughout the United States. RPB currently provides eye research grants to more than 55 leading U.S. scientific institutions, supporting the work of hundreds of talented vision scientists engaged in a diverse range of disease-oriented research. To date, the organization has awarded grants totaling more than $3.7 million to the University of Florida College of Medicine. Visit www.rpbusa.org for more on RPB's grants and research developments, and a copy of RPB’s most recent annual report.

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