Newswise — Mass Eye and Ear is proud to announce the successful conclusion of its historic campaign, “Bold Science. Life-Changing Cures.” which raised $252M from philanthropy to advance research to treat and cure diseases of vision, hearing, and the head and neck.

The campaign was led by co-chair Wyc Grousbeck, Boston Celtics CEO and Lead Owner and former Chairman of Mass Eye and Ear. Grousbeck was elected Chairman of the Foundation and Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear in 2010, and stepped down from the position earlier this year. He will continue to serve as a trustee and contribute to advancing Mass Eye and Ear’s mission, with a lasting legacy that includes two endowed chairs and a gene therapy research center he and his family established.

The campaign’s finale culminated in a virtual celebration as part of the hospital’s annual Sense-ation! Gala on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 7:30 PM EST. This year’s gala was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was hosted by longtime Mass Eye and Ear friends, Billy Costa, (Co-Host of KISS 108’s “Matty in the Morning” and NESN’s “Dining Playbook) and founding gala chair Joey McIntrye (New Kids on the Block).

[Watch the entire 11th Annual Sense-ation Gala!]

Bold Science. Life-Changing Cures. Ends with Enduring Legacy

The “Bold Science. Life-Changing Cures.” campaign was launched with the goal of expediting cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck by investing in three key areas: people, programs and places (our facilities). Through this campaign, the generosity of donors and organizations infused significant financial resources into Mass Eye and Ear’s cutting-edge research programs, and supported the facilities needed by the leading physicians and scientists in Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery to conduct their world-class work.

The campaign resulted in a powerful and far-reaching impact on research at Mass Eye and Ear by faculty, including:

  • Performed the first FDA-approved gene therapy surgery to restore vision to a 13-year old boy with hereditary blindness
  • Discovered a drug to restore partial hearing in animal models and partnered with industry to launch human clinical trials
  • Discovered that high-dose statins can improve vision in dry age-related macular degeneration
  • Identified a protective gene for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Successfully cured a form of genetic hearing loss in a mouse model using CRISPR gene editing 
  • Uncovered a key mechanism that causes head and neck cancers to metastasize
  • Performed the first corneal transplants grown from a patient’s own stem cells
  • Developed several drugs to reconnect neurons in a mouse model of hidden hearing loss
  • Launched an experimental vaccine for COVID-19
  • Began leading a trial on CRISPR gene therapy for inherited blindness, the first-in-human treatment of its kind in the world

Additionally, new Research Centers were launched in gene therapy, tinnitus, and head and neck cancer and two world-class surgical training laboratories were built.

The campaign also will leave a lasting legacy of fourteen endowed Chairs for leading physicians and scientists that will remain for generations. The endowment of a Chair provides financial support for researchers, allowing them to focus on their efforts to develop treatments and cures.


Wyc Grousbeck Honored for Dedication to Mass Eye and Ear During 10 years as Chairman 

Grousbeck, who served as Board Chairman at Mass Eye and Ear for the past decade, was honored at this year’s Sense-ation! Gala for his many contributions. During his tenure, he led the organization through remarkable growth, both clinically and as a world-renowned research center. Mass Eye and Ear surgical volume doubled and the number of clinical locations grew from 9 to 21 throughout the region. Grousbeck’s leadership played critical roles in two highly successful mergers: Schepens Eye Research Institute joining Mass Eye and Ear in 2012 and Mass Eye and Ear joining Mass General Brigham (formerly Partners HealthCare) in 2018. He also initiated and served as co-chair of the “Bold Science. Life-Changing Cures.” campaign.

“Wyc’s leadership during the campaign has been nothing short of magnificent; he has showed us anything is possible,” said John Fernandez, President of Mass Eye and Ear. “When we first reached our $100M goal in the campaign, Wyc called on us to double that amount by 2020. With Wyc’s guidance, we were able to exceed that ambitious goal by more than $50M by the campaign’s end.”

Grousbeck first became involved with Mass Eye and Ear because his family has been touched by blindness, and since then, they have been devoted to research and educational initiatives relating to blindness and other vision-related conditions for many years.

Grousbeck and his family’s philanthropic support established the Grousbeck Center for Gene Therapy at Mass Eye and Ear as well as the Grousbeck Family Chair in Gene Therapy, held by Luk H. Vandenberghe, PhD. Additionally, Wyc and his wife, Emilia Fazzalari, funded the Fazzalari-Grousbeck Chair in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery held by Tessa Hadlock, MD. Most recently, they seeded Dr. Vandenberghe’s work to develop an experimental and novel genetic vaccine for COVID-19.

Grousbeck was a driving force around establishing the first Sense-ation Gala 11 years ago, which brought celebrities, musicians, philanthropists, and scientists together to help raise funds for Mass Eye and Ear research and patient care. The gala to date has raised more than $12M for the Mass Eye and Ear Curing Kids Fund.


About Mass Eye and Ear

Massachusetts Eye and Ear, founded in 1824, is an international center for treatment and research and a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. A member of Mass General Brigham, Mass Eye and Ear specializes in ophthalmology (eye care) and otolaryngology–head and neck surgery (ear, nose and throat care). Mass Eye and Ear clinicians provide care ranging from the routine to the very complex. Also home to the world's largest community of hearing and vision researchers, Mass Eye and Ear scientists are driven by a mission to discover the basic biology underlying conditions affecting the eyes, ears, nose, throat, head and neck and to develop new treatments and cures. In the 2020–2021 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass Eye and Ear #4 in the nation for eye care and #6 for ear, nose and throat care. For more information about life-changing care and research at Mass Eye and Ear, visit our blog, Focus, and follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook