The gift, which will be included in Pickens' estate and paid out after his death, will support a scholars program aimed at finding treatments for degenerative eye conditions. Boone Pickens Scholars would use the funds for innovative research that doesn't typically receive government funding.
Pickens' connection to Wilmer was forged some thirty years ago when he brought his late father, who suffered from macular degeneration, to the institute after establishing a friendship with Dr. Walter Stark, an ophthalmologist who today holds a Pickens-endowed chair at the institute. Although his father's sight could not be saved, recent advancements in the treatment of macular degeneration have enabled Pickens, who has been treated at the institute for the same condition, to retain his vision. A signatory of the Giving Pledge, Pickens endowed the $2 million professorship in 2005 and contributed an additional $6 million to the construction of the institute's building on the university's East Baltimore campus in 2009.
"What this gift will do is allow us to scour the globe, not just the United States, to find the best and brightest young minds, bring them here as Boone Pickens Scholars...and allow them to explore that brilliant idea that, if it pans out, is going to be a game changer," Wilmer Institute director Dr. Peter McDonnell told the Sun.