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Ophthalmology Pioneer Dr. Jeffrey P. Gilbard Dies

WOBURN, Mass., Aug.13 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Jeffrey P. Gilbard, a pioneer in dry eye disease, died Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Doctors say the cause of death was complications related to a bicycle accident. He was 55 years old.

Dr. Gilbard is best known for his pioneering research that led to treatments for dry eye disease, a condition that is caused by a chronic lack of moisture in the eye. He also is considered one of the first ophthalmologists and researchers to understand the correlation between nutrition and the health and wellness of the eye.

Dr. Gilbard founded Advanced Vision Research (AVR) in 1995 to market and distribute TheraTears, a revolutionary over-the-counter eye drop he created to treat dry eye. TheraTears quickly became one of the best selling eye lubricants on the market. His holistic approach to eye care included the use of nutritional supplements to improve the ocular surface and to treat and prevent retinal disease. This research resulted in additional products including TheraTears Nutrition, Macutrition and NutriDox.

With numerous patents and 11 products available in stores worldwide, the company has had record sales for 12 consecutive years. The AVR executive team led by Chief Operating Officer Leigh Reynolds will continue to run the company. Neil D. Donnenfeld, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing and Ruth Webb who serves as controller will continue to grow the business and offer new products into the marketplace.

"Our company is grieving the loss of its founder and our close friend, Dr. Jeffrey Gilbard," says Leigh Reynolds. "Over the past 12 years, I have worked closely with Jeff to build AVR. Jeff's vision for AVR to make products to prevent suffering due to dry eye and other eye diseases was very clear. We will continue his mission of improving people's quality of life. This is what Jeff would want us to do and there's no better tribute to him than to continue his work."

Neil Donnenfeld adds: "Jeff was blessed with extraordinary intellect and dedication. He combined the two and made a significant difference in the world. He had no greater satisfaction than to hear that one of AVR's products helped a dry-eye sufferer - and he heard that frequently. His legacy will live on through the relief that dry-eye sufferers receive when they use one of his products. We have lost a giant of a man."

In the summer of 1976, as a medical student, Dr. Gilbard met his first patient with dry-eye and decided something had to be done. What began as a summer research project turned into one of the most productive dry eye research programs in the world. In 1978 he received project grant funding from the National Eye Institute, and to this day he remains the youngest scientist in history to have received such funding. His research program had one goal - to develop an eye drop for dry eyes that really worked.

"Jeff Gilbard was an innovative, gifted ophthalmologist and researcher, who made several important contributions to our profession," said Dr. Edward Holland, director of Cornea Service at the Cincinnati Eye Institute. "He was the first person to understand the importance of tear film osmolarity and his development of hypotonic artificial tears containing bicarbonate and potassium is a landmark event in the treatment of dry eye disease. Dr. Gilbard was on the forefront of the treatment of ocular disease and nutritional supplements. Dr. Gilbard's legacy will be the scientific papers he authored, the revolutionary products he developed to help patients with ocular surface and retinal disease and most notably the people whose lives he'll continue to improve."

Born on February 19, 1954 and raised in Roslyn, New York he was the son of a self-educated New York business entrepreneur Harris Gilbard and Frances Gilbard. He attended Brown University, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude in 1975. He received his medical degree in 1979 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He was an Intern in Internal Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center and served his Ophthalmology residency at Harvard Medical School in the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He remained at Harvard as a Heed Fellow in Cornea. He was a clinical assistant professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Disease Clinic at the New England Eye Center in Boston.

Dr. Jeffrey Gilbard is survived by his beloved wife of 19 years, Liz and his three children, who he adored and nurtured. He also leaves behind his twin brother Dr. Steven M. Gilbard, his older brother Dr. Robert J. Gilbard. A memorial service will take place on Monday at 11:00 am at Temple Shir Tikva, 141 Boston Post Road, Wayland, Massachusetts.

SOURCE Advanced Vision Research
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