May 24, 2014

Heritage Days Rochester Michigan, Memorial day weekend: heritage as connections.

Lots happening in the municipal park at downtown Rochester Michigan. Home city of my university:, and my place of work the Eye Research InstituteHere are some pictures of art, crafts, cars, heritage and food this Saturday and Sunday.

Scientifically, Rochester is the place, at young Oakland University, where my instutute's co-founder V. Everett Kinsey PhD conceived that we needed a National Eye Institute added to the National Institutes of Health. He co-founded the ERI with Venkat N. Reddy, PhD. In the first cafeteria of Oakland University's student center (now basement level in the expanded center) is where he spent several hours convincing two important Ophthalmologists that the US and the world needed a vision science portfolio guided by an National Eye Iinstitute. 

In 1968/69 the NEI was created at the NIH by an act of congress and Dr Kinsey chaired the first NEI scientific advisory committee, which selected one of those visiting ophthalmologists as the NEI's first director: Dr Carl Kupfer MD. He was still the NEI director in 1995 when I and many other new PhDs started post doctoral training at the NEI/NIH. The NEI's 2nd director is Paul Sieving MD PhD who has ushered in the first successful clinical trials of gene therapy for some forms of blinding retinal degenerations. Dr Sieving was aleady a leading genetic-disease clinician scientist at the Kellogg Eye Center (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) in 1997 during my last post-doctoral fellowship.

So, there is a lot of science and medicine heritage around this little corner of South East Michigan. Without this heritage many of us would not benefit from where we live and work now. Heritage is not just the past or some boring history, it is also the substance of all the connections that have brought you or I to where we are right now. So if you are in the Rochester Michigan area this weekend, c'mon down to municipal park with the Family and friends.

Ken Mitton

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