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University of Iowa Foundation Release


June 12, 2007

Gift Endows UI Ophthalmology Professorship; Kwon Appointed to Position

Ruth M. Altermatt of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has permanently endowed a professorship in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. The gift was made through the UI Foundation.

Young H. Kwon, M.D., Ph.D., a glaucoma specialist and associate professor in the department, will be formally appointed the Clifford M. and Ruth M. Altermatt Associate Professor of Glaucoma at a ceremony on Friday, June 15. The Altermatt Professorship will exist in perpetuity, supporting the glaucoma research of a faculty member in the UI ophthalmology department.

Jean E. Robillard, UI vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, said the professorship will be crucial to sustaining the UI's leadership in glaucoma research and treatment.

"The Altermatt Professorship will forever be an invaluable resource as the UI meets the challenges presented by glaucoma," Robillard said. "We are deeply grateful for Mrs. Altermatt's generosity.

"As the first Clifford M. and Ruth M. Altermatt Associate Professor of Glaucoma, Dr. Kwon, who is recognized as a leader in glaucoma research as well as an outstanding clinician and educator, will be able to significantly expand his research and enhance the treatment for which he and his colleagues in our glaucoma clinic are renowned."

Clifford M. Altermatt, who died in 1996, worked in the agricultural investments industry, retiring from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He had glaucoma and was a patient in the Glaucoma Service at UI Hospitals and Clinics under the care of Wallace L.M. Alward, M.D., who holds the Frederick C. Blodi Chair in Ophthalmology in the UI Carver College of Medicine. Ruth Altermatt made her gift in gratitude for her husband's care.

Kwon joined the UI faculty in 1996. He received his medical degree from Yale University, where he also completed a fellowship in glaucoma; he earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earlier had earned his bachelor's degree. Kwon completed his ophthalmology residency at Harvard Medical School.

Glaucoma is a family of diseases that cause optic nerve cupping and damage, and is usually, but not always, associated with elevated eye pressure. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. The UI Glaucoma Service provides evaluation and medical and surgical treatment of glaucoma characterized by optic nerve damage.

The UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences is ranked sixth by U.S.News & World Report in the magazine's 2006 "Best Hospitals" rankings. The department is renowned for its molecular ophthalmology research and is a leader in the fields of age-related macular degeneration and genetic ophthalmologic diseases. For more information about the department, visit its web site at

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

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

CONTACT: Mitch Beckman, executive director of development, UI Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics, 319-335-3305,; Writer: Nic Arp

PHOTOS: A high-resolution image of Clifford and Ruth Altermatt is available:

A web-quality image also is available: