Ruth Albert, generous benefactor and patient of Duke Eye Center, passed away in March 2021 at the age of 97. Ruth and her husband, Herman, lovingly known as “Hy,” were impactful donors to Duke Eye Center. In 2002, they bestowed an $8 million dollar gift to support a new eye research building. Ruth and Hy were honored by the building being named the Albert Eye Research Institute (AERI), which opened in 2005.
AERI is a five-story building adjoining the Wadsworth building that created a much-needed space for Duke ophthalmology research teams to make groundbreaking discoveries, a separate clinic designed for pediatric patients and a generous auditorium and gathering area for medical education events.
The Alberts were introduced to Duke in the 1990s and became long and dedicated friends of Duke University Medical Center. In addition to their loyal support for Duke Eye Center, they also contributed $3.5 million to lung cancer research and the thoracic oncology program.
Ruth and Hy loved Duke and the opportunity to serve in advisory roles. Hy was a member of the Duke Medical Center Board of Visitors and the couple joined the Duke Eye Center Advisory Board.
They were committed to the continued excellence in ophthalmic research, education and patient care. In a quote from VISION magazine in 2002, Hy said, “When it came time to make the gift of a lifetime for medical research, we had no doubt about where to place our trust as well as our resources. We know that we can do the most good for people through our philanthropic involvement here.”
“The Department of Ophthalmology is immensely thankful for Ruth and Hy’s commitment and contributions,” said Edward G. Buckley, MD, chair for Duke ophthalmology. “Gifts like theirs are extraordinarily generous and afford us the opportunity to expand programs essential to continued success for our primary missions of research, education and patient care.”
Ruth and Herman Albert’s philanthropy will be remembered for generations to come – the researchers who occupy the labs at Albert Eye Research Institute continue to produce innovative research that leads to new and improved treatments and imaging for eye disease. The pediatric patients and caregivers who walk through the door of the pediatric clinic have a dedicated area to receive revolutionary care from our expert pediatric ophthalmologists, and the learners who sit in the auditorium for medical education will be tomorrow’s ophthalmology leaders.