Giving Opportunities

Department Endowments

The Department seeks funds to support an expanding menu of research projects, to provide bridge funding between times when scientists are without grants, and to fund new investigator recruitments. The annual infrastructure support helps fund administrative activities, clinical and research faculty recruitments, educational programs, and the acquisition of basic equipment. An expansion of the Department's endowment is essential to protect advancements in both its clinical and research initiatives. 

Endowed Chairs

An endowed chair provides support and prestige, in perpetuity, for distinguished faculty. Endowments allow the faculty to be more productive in activities such as writing papers and texts, and leveraging research support from the National Eye Institute/NIH and other agencies. Endowed chairs are attractive naming opportunities for donors. Current funding requirements of the University for Endowed Chairs are $2.5 million for a Professorship, $1.5 million for an Associate Professorship, and $1.5 million for an Assistant Professorship. If you are interested in supporting an endowment, please contact Jane Heffner, Executive Director of Development, at 212-305-7827 or at


The Scholars Program enables the Department to recruit new faculty. Private support allows the department to engage the person selected for a period of three to five years, during which time, the donor's name may be attached to the scholar and his or her activities. If you are interested in supporting a Scholars Program, please contact Jane Heffner, Executive Director of Development, at 212-305-7827 or at


a specialized field of inquiry in ophthalmology or vision science. Fellows are vital to a robust research program, contributing to a faculty member's academic productivity at a relatively low cost to the Department. The commitment of a Fellow to the Department ranges between one and two years. If you are interested in supporting a Fellowship, please contact Jane Heffner, Executive Director of Development, at 212-305-7827 or at

Facility and Technology Improvements

Researchers are needed in specific areas of our clinical and research building to develop and maintain centers of excellence in all our specialty areas including Retina, Glaucoma, Cornea and Refractive Surgery, and Pediatric Ophthalmology. Research laboratories require modernization and refurbishing. State-of-the-art equipment in all major areas is required. To inquire about how to support us, please contact Jane Heffner, Executive Director of Development, at 212-305-7827 or at

Special Funds

Ophthalmology Annual Fund

The Ophthalmology Annual Fund underwrites the research initiatives, clinical trials, patient care, and educational programs of the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute.  Our research and clinical faculty are highly regarded scholars who have yielded and continue to generate groundbreaking insights into vision science. The Ophthalmology Annual Fund helps Columbia Ophthalmology invest in advanced and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, conduct research on innovative therapeutic and surgical interventions, and facilitate the educational training of our distinguished fellows and residents. Support of the Ophthalmology Annual Fund allows Columbia Ophthalmology to remain on the cutting-edge of research initiatives, clinical practice, and educational training.

Retina Research Fund

Retinal diseases and disorders have a devastating effect on the quality of life for individuals of all ages, from birth throughout the advanced stages of life. They can occur suddenly and without warning, often leading to severe vision loss if left untreated. Given the effects of these vision-impairing conditions, our faculty is exploring research into therapeutic and pharmacological interventions, including gene therapy for eye disorders and stem cell research and transplantation. The Retina Research Fund underwrites the collaborative efforts among our retina specialists as they conduct research initiatives, clinical trials, and innovative surgical and therapeutic interventions aimed at eliminating the progression of retinal diseases and disorders. Your support of the efforts of our retina faculty has the potential to prevent and retard retinal diseases and restore the gift of sight for members of our community.

Glaucoma Research Fund

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness in the working age population in the United States and worldwide. Currently, there is no cure for the disease and treatment involves long-term chronic care with medications, laser treatments, and/or surgical procedures. Early intervention and treatment can aid in preventing severe vision loss. In order to expand our research initiatives, clinical assessments, and innovative treatments for this debilitating disorder, Columbia Ophthalmology established the Glaucoma Research Fund. Our research is the key to helping better manage this eye disease and to developing new and more effective treatments for individuals afflicted with the disease. A donation to the Glaucoma Research Fund will help to facilitate our pioneering efforts in glaucoma research initiatives and clinical practice, and will enable us to enhance our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent glaucoma, alleviating the suffering of our numerous glaucoma patients.

Corneal Research Fund

Corneal diseases comprise a wide spectrum of visual impairment, from such common conditions as corneal scratches and dry eye syndrome, as well as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Our distinguished cornea specialists treat these conditions through non-invasive and non-surgical treatments.  However, in more advanced cases of corneal diseases, such as keratitis, corneal dystrophy, and keratoconus surgical intervention is often required. Our specialists in their research endeavors are focusing on the development of non-surgical and non-invasive treatment for these degenerative corneal diseases with particular emphasis on keratoconus through the establishment of the Keratoconus Treatment and Research Center. A donation to the Corneal Research Fund will aid the research and subsequent clinical trials for corneal diseases and disorders, with a focus on keratoconus.

Neuro-Ophthalmology Fund

Neuro-ophthalmology is a subspecialty of both ophthalmology and neurology that explores visual disturbances that result from disorders of the central nervous system. Therefore, neuro-ophthalmology’s main focus is on the relationship between the eye and the brain: how exactly neurological disorders impact how the brain perceives vision, controls eye movements, and responds to visual stimuli. Our mission at Columbia Ophthalmology involves patient care, educational training, and research, three components essential to the study of neuro-ophthalmology. The Neuro-Ophthalmology Fund supports research, educational initiatives, and clinical trials for neuro-ophthalmological disorders. A donation to the Neuro-Ophthalmology Fund will help finance research and clinical trials to help combat these challenging brain and eye disorders, as well as enhance our ability to diagnose and treat neuro-ophthalmological disorders, making cures for many conditions ever more possible.

Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Research Fund

Here at Columbia Ophthalmology, we have expanded the scope of pediatric ophthalmology services in the last few years through faculty recruitment and the opening of two sites dedicated to serving children’s vision needs: the Burch Family Eye Center located on the West Side and the Stephen Ross Pediatric Ophthalmology Center situated within the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, in Washington Heights. At these centers, our pediatric ophthalmologists treat a wide range of ophthalmic diseases and disorders. The Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Research Fund supports the development of our research initiatives, clinical treatments, and surgical and therapeutic interventions, as well as the training of future pediatric ophthalmologists. A donation to the fund would advance our research initiatives into early detection and screening for pediatric ophthalmic diseases as well as provide support for the acquisition of the latest diagnostic equipment and our educational activities.

Ocular Oncology Research Fund

The Ocular Oncology Division was resurrected in 2019 under new leadership. The goal of this Division with the help of the Ocular Oncology Research Fund is to provide powerful treatments to those diagnosed with cancer of the eye and to pursue discoveries that bring us closer to new and better ocular cancer treatments.  To carry out this work, the faculty is refining radiation for the treatment of uveal melanoma to reduce exposure and minimize damage to healthy eye tissue; evaluating new ways to deliver chemotherapy to eye tumors without radiation; treating retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer, through an integrated team approach. These are only some of the many research efforts currently under way. 

Eye Institute Special Gift Fund

This fund is an unrestricted account used in support of educational purposes and general research activities taking place in Columbia Ophthalmology.

Way to Give

IRA - A transfer directly from your IRA to a fund of your choosing at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (often called a qualified charitable distribution or IRA charitable rollover) is a simple but highly effective way to give. If you’re age 70 ½ or over, it’s a great way to minimize the tax bite associated with IRA-required minimum distributions.

Get More Information About IRA

Matching Gifts

Many companies match their employees’ donations to Columbia, multiplying gift impact.

Learn How You Could Have Your Gift Matched

Gifts of Securities

Learn how you can gift appreciated stocks, bonds, and mutual funds when considering a donation of $1,000 or more. 

Learn About Gifts of Securities

Planned Giving

We welcome working with you and your advisors to plan your charitable giving strategy.

Learn More About Planned Giving