UNC Health Talk

UNC School of Medicine receives $1 million gift from The North Carolina Eye Bank

Media contacts: Stephanie Mahin, (919) 951-4758 or smahin@unch.unc.edu

Penny LaBrecque, (800) 552-9956 Ext. 1107or plabrecque@nceyebank.org


For Immediate Release: Jan. 16, 2013


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The University of North Carolina School of Medicine received a $1 million gift from The North Carolina Eye Bank (NCEB) to establish a unique and innovative multidisciplinary surgical skills lab.

The gift to the Department of Ophthalmology will be shared among three neurosciences departments: Ophthalmology, Neurosurgery, and Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery. The newly created laboratory, the only of its kind in the region, provides state-of-the-art surgical training opportunities to medical students, residents, fellows and physicians across the state.

“Training future generations of eye surgeons to serve the people of North Carolina is one of our top priorities at UNC Eye,” said Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology. “The new surgical training center will greatly enhance our educational mission by providing our residents with a state of the art facility where they can practice and learn from our world-class surgeons.”

Earlier today, the chairs of the departments officially opened The North Carolina Eye Bank Multidisciplinary Surgical Skills Laboratory at UNC with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This laboratory is dedicated to the thousands of North Carolinians who unselfishly provided the gift of sight that others may see again. We are proud to partner with The University of North Carolina School of Medicine in this endeavor,” said Dean Vavra, MS, CEBT, Executive Director of The North Carolina Eye Bank, Inc.

The multidisciplinary surgical skills and biometrics laboratory, located on the UNC campus, occupies 3,500 square feet with 19 stations; a 50-person conference room; and an 800-square foot simulation lab with access to high fidelity simulators such as robotic stations and anatomic computer based simulators. The simulators allow controlled proctoring and progressive educational scoring of surgical skills.

“The extremely generous gift from the North Carolina Eye Bank to fund the laboratory is a huge shot in the arm for the UNC Health Care System,” said Harold C. Pillsbury III, MD, Thomas J. Dark Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery. “The opportunity to educate residents, faculty, and community physicians in this facility will create a state of the art opportunity for all students and physicians in North Carolina.”


The lab also houses three full body surgical stations and 16 cadaveric head or skull surgical stations that will allow didactic, simulation and cadaveric based surgical education in eye, ear and neurosurgery.

“This (gift) is a transformative investment in the training of ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons, and ENT surgeons,” said Matthew Ewend, MD, Van L. Weatherspoon, Jr. Eminent Distinguished Professor and Chair of the UNC Department of Neurosurgery. “Patients can expect that the physicians of North Carolina who take advantage of this training lab will be armed with the best and newest techniques. Surgeons-in-training can expect to practice and master their crafts in the lab prior to entering the operating room. This lab is the future of ophthalmologic and surgical training.”

The entire facility is wired for telecommunications with both high definition video and audio, operative microscopes, powered instrumentation, operating rooms and distance education and web-based sources. This telecommunication will provide both distance based and surgical simulation based learning to medical students, residents, fellows and current physicians of North Carolina.