Helping the blind to see
William Hauswirth, PhD, a professor in the department of ophthalmology, was the first to restore sight in animals born blind using gene therapy. He and colleagues from UF and the University of Pennsylvania first used the gene transfer technique in humans in 2008, not only proving it was safe, but also restoring some vision in patients with a rare, incurable form of blindness. Dr. Hauswirth used the same technique to cure two squirrel monkeys of color blindness, something Time Magazine called the No. 3 scientific discovery of 2009. Most recently, Dr. Hauswirth received the Llura Liggett Gund Award, the highest honor given by nonprofit organization the Foundation Fighting Blindness, for his impact on retinal disease research.