Hanna and Mark Gleiberman have committed $20 million to establish the Hanna and Mark Gleiberman Center for Glaucoma Research at UC San Diego. Photo credit: Shannon Henry at Studio Carre Photographie

Researchers at the University of California San Diego may soon be closer to finding ways to reverse the effects of glaucoma, thanks to $20 million in support from Hanna and Mark Gleiberman. The gift will establish the Hanna and Mark Gleiberman Center for Glaucoma Research at UC San Diego.

The center will be housed within the Viterbi Family Vision Research Center at UC San Diego. The funds are designated to stimulate research on advanced glaucoma, with the ultimate goal of protecting and restoring the vision of those who suffer from the condition.

As someone who was diagnosed with glaucoma, Mark Gleiberman understands the need and urgency to find a cure. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve and can progressively lead to blindness.

Gleiberman receives ongoing care from Robert N. Weinreb, MD, chair and Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology, director of the Shiley Eye Institute and holder of the Morris Gleich, MD, Chair in Glaucoma at UC San Diego.

“We have seen the incredible work that is being done at the Shiley Eye Institute, both from a clinical and research perspective. I believe that the glaucoma team at Shiley, led by Dr. Weinreb, is truly the top glaucoma team in the world,” said Gleiberman, who is founder and CEO of MG Properties. “Hanna and I hope that our donation will greatly assist in accelerating and enhancing the groundbreaking work already being done.”

In addition to establishing the new center, the Gleibermans’ gift will create three new endowed chairs — Hanna and Mark Gleiberman Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Glaucoma Research I, II and III — to support the recruitment of exceptional vision scientists to the research team.  

“UC San Diego has an established history as one of the nation’s top places for vision care and research, and this gift will serve to bolster even further the leading-edge work taking place to combat glaucoma,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are grateful to Hanna and Mark Gleiberman for their visionary support of this new center, which follows their past generous support to combat cancer and address societal issues such as homelessness.”

In recognition of their dedicated support of the campus, the Gleibermans were honored with the 2021 Chancellor’s Medal, one of the highest honors given by UC San Diego to recognize exceptional service in support of the university’s mission.

Finding a cure for glaucoma

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over 60 years of age, but it can affect patients of all ages, including children. The progressive eye disease affects more than 3 million people in the United States and 70 million individuals worldwide.

The Gleibermans’ donation will bolster efforts to find effective ways of restoring vision to glaucoma patients in whom optic nerve damage has already occurred. Researchers will test various potential treatments, including utilizing stem cells to promote optic nerve regeneration. Investigators will also look at how to protect patients’ existing vision by identifying and rescuing retinal ganglion cells that have not yet died due to the condition.