– Envision welcomed state, city and county officials, business leaders and donors to its headquarters in downtown Wichita today for the grand opening of the Gigi and Carl Allen Envision Research Institute (ERI). Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell were among those who joined Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante to show their support of the ERI and highlight its importance to city and state as it establishes the Midwest as a hub of vision-related research.
“The Envision Research Institute promises to further establish our state as a center of scientific research and innovation, drawing great minds to focus on a common goal of improving lives and creating employment,” said Gov. Brownback. “On behalf of those who will now have the opportunity to conduct research here and the many more individuals who will benefit from their endeavors, I salute Envision and all those who contributed to making this day possible.”
Construction on the 12,500-square-feet facility on the third of the Envision building at 610 N. Main began last year. In February, it was announced Envision had reached its $3.1 million fundraising goal and qualified for a $300,000 challenge grant from the Tulsa, Okla.-based J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation.
“We are extremely grateful to all who contributed to the creation of the ERI that will close significant gaps in vision-related research,” Monteferrante said. “As proud as we are of the work we are already doing at Envision, it is with great excitement and anticipation that we look ahead to a time when the outcomes of ERI studies will enable us to do even more to improve the quality of life for those who are blind and visually impaired.”
The opening of ERI invites an unprecedented opportunity for Executive Director, Laura Walker, PhD, the scientific staff and many affiliates and collaborators who have long awaited the chance to fully engage in meaningful and applied vision research. The goal is to raise the standard for low vision patient care and remove functional barriers by investigating the implications of vision loss, early screening and access to treatments, optimizing rehabilitation therapies and developing accessibility technology.
“Our goal is for eye care practitioners to never again tell a patient there is nothing more they can do. There is always more that can be done, and that’s called low vision rehabilitation,” Dr. Walker said. “The ERI is creating a link between researchers, clinicians and educational teams. Our unique access to the Envision Vision Rehabilitation Clinic, Envision Child Development Center, Envision Industries and Envision’s global network of contacts in the vision care community will help us ask the most meaningful and impactful questions, identify how those with vision loss want and need to interact with the world and to remove the functional barriers that stand in their way.”
The establishment and construction of the ERI was made possible through major contributions made by:
- Mr. and Mrs. Carl and Gigi Allen. Allen is the President and CEO of Allen Exploration.
- Mrs. Dee Rolph, community philanthropist and former co-owner of Sasnak Management, the Wichita, Kansas-based parent company for Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican restaurants.
- Mr. and Mrs. Greg and Marilena Lucier. Lucier is chairman/CEO of San Diego-based medical device company NuVasive, Inc.
- Dwane and Velma Wallace Foundation
To learn more about the ERI and the research projects in progress, go to envisionus.com/research
: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration for the blind and visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.