Dean McGee Eye Institute Receives Grant from Knights Templar Eye Foundation to Establish $4 Million Endowment for Pediatric Vision Research

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) has awarded the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) a $2 million grant to establish an endowment for pediatric vision research. This amount is being matched with $2 million from the DMEI Foundation to create a $4 million endowment. Proceeds from the endowment will be used exclusively to support research into pediatric eye disease.

“We are greatly honored and humbled by the trust KTEF has placed in us,” states R. Michael Siatkowski, MD, MBA, DMEI’s chief executive officer and the Edward L. Gaylord professor and chair of the University of Oklahoma (OU) Department of Ophthalmology. “DMEI is only the second organization to receive this type of grant from KTEF, and it is transformational in terms of our ability to push the boundaries of research into eye diseases that afflict our pediatric patients. Distributions from the endowment will be used to support postdoctoral fellows and research assistants, perform biostatistical analysis and genetic testing, underwrite clinical trials of new procedures or treatments, and purchase necessary equipment. With this type of support, pediatric vision research will accelerate at DMEI.”

Notes KTEF President David J. Kussman, “Since our inception, the KTEF has always given special attention and emphasis to pediatrics, with the goal of producing the greatest good for humanity. We are excited to have a research endowment with DMEI. Through the research that DMEI is doing, they are making a tremendous difference in the lives of children and helping KTEF fulfill its mission to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care. By their research they are helping to prevent blindness or restore vision to a child, thereby enhancing the child’s quality of life and allowing that person to become a more productive member of society.”

The types of pediatric eye diseases to be studied include retinopathy of prematurity, inherited retinal diseases, amblyopia, strabismus, and ocular infections. Research will be conducted at DMEI in conjunction with the OU Department of Ophthalmology by both clinicians and PhD researchers. Findings from the research supported by this endowment will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences.

About the Dean McGee Eye Institute
The Dean McGee Eye Institute is dedicated to serving all Oklahomans and the global community through excellence and leadership in patient care, education, and vision research. It is one of the largest and most respected eye institutes in the United States and houses the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. Its clinical, research, and training programs are ranked in the top 10 in the nation among public universities. Twenty-nine of the Institute’s ophthalmologists are listed in Top Doctors of the 405 and/or Castle Connolly Top Doctors. For more information, visit

About Knights Templar Eye Foundation
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., incorporated in 1956, is a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees. Since its inception, the Foundation has expended over $170 million on research, patient care, and education. Research grants totaling in excess of $36 million have been awarded to researchers working in the fields of pediatric ophthalmology and ophthalmic genetics.  The Foundation has two types of endowments: endowed professorships and research endowments, which is what DMEI was awarded by the KTEF Board of Trustees.  To date KTEF has approved four endowed professorships and two research endowments for a total of $12 million by KTEF and another $12 million by the awarded institutions.

Research endowments support research programs as a whole and increase the number of investigators who benefit from the endowment. Each endowed professorship and research endowment is awarded $2 million, which is matched dollar for dollar by the partner institution. Each one-time investment provides a perpetual benefit to both the Foundation and the recipient institution and is consistent with the Foundation’s mission statement.


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