Washington University in St. Louis has announced a $10 million gift from alumna Jane Hardesty Poole in support of vision research and patient care.
Honoring the legacy of Poole's late father, John F. Hardesty, an ophthalmologist and professor at the university, the gift will support basic vision research and efforts to translate the findings to clinical practice. The funds also will help provide vision care for patients, including those in financial need, and will support the recruitment and retention of leading physician-scientists to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences faculty. In recognition of the gift, the department will be renamed after Hardesty. Poole, a 1961 graduate of the university, previously made a gift to establish the John F. Hardesty, MD, Distinguished Professorship in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
Hardesty (1887-1953) was a St. Louis ophthalmologist, teacher, writer, and war hero who earned bachelor's and medical degrees from St. Louis University. After graduating in 1914, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served on the front lines in World War I. In 1918, he was captured by the Germans and held prisoner for eight months, during which time he helped three fellow prisoners escape. He later joined the faculty at the SLU School of Medicine and served as an associate professor there from 1934 to 1953, including three years as the acting chair of the school's ophthalmology department. During his tenure, he wrote a pioneering thesis regarding the treatment of glaucoma that detailed methods still in use today.
"Our department has a long history of advancing the understanding of eye diseases and vision loss, particularly in the area of glaucoma," said Todd P. Margolis, Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor and head of the ophthalmology department. "So it is fitting that our department now will bear the name of a man whose life's work involved preserving vision and improving quality of life for glaucoma patients."