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University of Iowa News Release


March 4, 2009

Endowed UI professorship named for Keech; Drack named to position

Ronald V. Keech, M.D. (photo, left), a University of Iowa physician who died in 2007, was renowned as a pioneering leader in pediatric ophthalmology. His legacy will live on at the UI through the endowed Ronald V. Keech, M.D., Professorship in Ophthalmic Genetics in the UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the John and Marcia Carver Nonprofit Genetic Testing Laboratory (CNGTL) at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

The Keech Professorship was created using a portion of a $5 million gift that was made in 2006 by Lucille A. Carver of Muscatine, Iowa. That gift, which established the CNGTL, was made through the University of Iowa Foundation. In recognition of that gift, the CNGTL was named for John and Marcia Carver of Rapids City, Ill. The CNGTL is part of the Carver Family Center for Macular Degeneration in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Associate Professor Arlene V. Drack, M.D. (photo, left), will be named the inaugural Keech Professor at an investiture ceremony on Friday, March 6, on the UI campus. Drack said the Keech Professorship will be an important tool for the UI eye program's research, patient care and teaching.

"It is a great honor to be named the first Keech Professor," Drack said. "Ron Keech was an inspiring mentor to me, and a leader in my field. This professorship is unique in that it creates a new position in the eye department:  a physician-scientist position dedicated to finding cures for blindness in children. This type of position is becoming very rare. Because of the Keech Professorship, someone will always be able to do this important work at the UI. On behalf of our department and all the future Keech Professors, I express my sincere gratitude for the Carvers' support."

Drack joined the UI faculty in 2008. Her specialties are pediatric eye disease, molecular ophthalmology, the genetics of eye disease, and adult and pediatric strabismus. Strabismus is a disorder in which both eyes cannot be directed at the same object at the same time.

Drack earned her medical degree from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Penn., in 1986, and completed a fellowship in ophthalmic genetics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She initially joined the UI as a fellow in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, followed by a second UI fellowship in ophthalmic molecular genetics, which she completed in 1992.

Drack then served on the faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, and at the University of Colorado in Denver, where she was chief of pediatric ophthalmology at The Children's Hospital.

Shortly after returning to the UI in 2008 as an associate professor, Drack received a five-year Marjorie Carr Adams Career Development Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness to work on gene therapy for retinitis pigmentosa. She also was recently awarded a Hope for Vision grant to support her research.

Keech earned his medical degree from the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco in 1974. He first came to the UI in 1978 as a fellow in pediatric ophthalmology. Following six years in private practice in Portland, Ore., he joined the UI medical faculty in 1985. In 1990, he was made an associate professor and in 1995 was promoted to full professor, eventually becoming service director of pediatric ophthalmology.

From 2001 until his death in 2007, Keech held the William E. Scott Chair for Education in Pediatric Ophthalmology. Other acknowledgements of his contributions to his field included the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) Honor Award in 1995, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Honor Award in 1996, designation by "U.S. News & World Report" from 1996 through 2007 as one of the "Best Doctors in America" and the AAPOS Senior Honor Award in 2004.

The Carver family -- including Lucille Carver, the widow of Roy J. Carver Sr., who died in 1981 -- and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine are among the UI's most generous benefactors.

More information is available at the following Web sites:

John and Marcia Carver Nonprofit Genetic Testing Laboratory:

Carver Family Center for Macular Degeneration:

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences:

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university.  For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its web site at

PHOTOS: High-resolution images of Arlene V. Drack, M.D., and Ronald V. Keech, M.D., are available:


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550

MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Shullaw, University of Iowa Foundation; 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973;; Writer, Nic Arp