Contact: Ellen Bank


Feb. 8, 2002

$2 Million Gift Made to MUSC's Storm Eye Institute

CHARLESTON, SC -- A $2 million gift to the Storm Eye Institute of the Medical University of South Carolina will perpetuate the Storm family legacy dedicated to preserving the vision of South Carolinians. This represents the largest cash gift in the university's history.

The gift came from the Kathleen Elizabeth O'Brien Foundation, which was established by the late Kathleen Elizabeth O'Brien, a niece of the late Willi Chapman Storm. Mrs. Storm made a bequest to the Medical University in 1967 as a memorial to her husband, Albert Florens Storm. The purpose of the bequest was to expand eye research and eye care for the poor in South Carolina. This gift was the genesis of the Storm Eye Institute, which was dedicated in 1976.

During its first 25 years, the institute has grown in international stature, and is recognized as one of this country's leading eye care facilities. In the research arena, the institute has reached the top 25 percent level of all eye research facilities in total National Institutes of Health grants. Since the beginning of the year 2001, 75 scientific publications originated from the Storm Eye Institute, including features on the cover of four of the most prestigious scientific journals in medicine.

"The $2 million gift will establish an unrestricted endowment for the Storm Eye Institute that will grow as the years pass and will assure that Storm Eye Institute researchers and clinicians have access to the latest, cutting-edge equipment," said M. Edward Wilson Jr., M.D., director of the Storm Eye Institute. "I anticipate new treatments and cures for blinding disease will result from work at the Storm Eye Institute because of the O'Brien Foundation's generosity and their confidence in our doctors and scientists."

The Storm Eye Institute has been built on a tradition of philanthropic support. Mrs. Storm's initial more bequest was the catalyst for the original building, a five-story structure on the MUSC campus. In 1998, an $8.8 million capital campaign was completed with the help of Lions Club members from across South Carolina and many other donors. These funds resulted in the addition of four floors to the building, completed in 1998.

The new $2 million gift is designated as the Kathleen E. O'Brien Endowment Fund for the Storm Eye Institute. Kathleen O'Brien, who was raised by Mr. and Mrs. Storm, acquired Bluff Plantation in Berkeley Country from the Storms and subsequently bequeathed the plantation to her foundation which maintained the land as a wildlife sanctuary from Ms. O'Brien's death in 1976 until last year. In September, the Bluff Plantation was sold with the stipulation that the purchaser was required to impose a conservation easement upon the land to forever protect the property in its natural state.

The $2 million gift to the Storm Institute is the major portion from the proceeds of the sale of the plantation. The trustees of the O'Brien Foundation were impressed by the track record of research discoveries and patient care innovations at Storm Eye Institute and deemed that in light of the Storm and O'Brien connection to the Institute, the funds should be used to further the work of sight conservation and research discovery at MUSC's Storm Eye Institute.