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Palm Beach  Society News  Pages 1 
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Black Tie International:
Schepens Supporters Celebrate 60th Anniversary

Leo Vecellio and Kathryn Vecellio, Trustee Chairman and Ken Fischer,

Leo and Kathryn Vecellio, Trustee Chairman and Ken Fischer,
President of Schepens Eye Research Institute
Photo by:  Lucien Capehart Photography




PALM BEACH – Scientific research and designer fashion formed an extraordinary collaboration when supporters of Schepens Eye Research Institute celebrated “A Night for Sight” in grand style as they observed the Institute’s 60th Anniversary and its new union with Massachusetts Eye and Ear on Wednesday evening, November 30th at The Breakers.

Highlights of the evening included Neiman Marcus Palm Beach presenting a formal runway fashion presentation of the Monique Lhuillier Spring 2012 Collection, who was on hand for the special occasion, and a tribute to the Institute’s founder, Dr. Charles L. Schepens.

Joan W. Miller, M.D., Chief and Chair of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School, provided a glimpse into the future of the new union created by the Institute and Mass Eye and Ear.

The designer and the clinician scientist were the guests of honor at the event.  Beth Pine, Vice President of Neiman Marcus Palm Beach, presented the fashions.

Following the runway fashion show, guests were treated to an elegant dinner party and piano presentation designed by Schepens’ Trustee Chairmen Kathryn Vecellio, Kay Lyons and Nancy Raquet. 

Toni May served as emcee for the program, which also included recognition of longtime Schepens supporters by Mrs. Vecellio, who presented an update on scientific research and past accomplishments made at the Institute over the past 60 years.

As Mrs. Vecellio asked the guests to imagine a life without vision, she paid tribute to the scientists at the Institute who are legacy of Dr. Schepens.

“As a supporter of the Institute, I have always been fascinated by their research, but as an individual, I’m proud to raise funds for scientists who follow Dr. Schepens’ mission to eradicate blindness for us all.  I hope you will join me in continuing to support the Institute so that your vision – and that of those you love – may be preserved.”

Rich Godfrey, Patient Liaison at the Institute, provided a look at the lifetime and legend of the Institute’s creator, known as the Father of Modern Retinal Surgery.

Famed pianist David Crohan entertained the guests.  Blind since birth, the pianist has performed for such distinguished people as President and Mrs. Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Lady Bird Johnson, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Bill Joel and many others.  He entertained Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy on her 100th birthday, and attended the Perkins School for the Blind and the New England Conservatory of Music.

A by-invitation-only cocktail reception was held the evening prior aboard the newly christened M/Y Lady Kathryn V, which arrived in Palm Beach for the occasion.

            Grand Honorary Chairman of “A Night for Sight” was Hermé de Wyman Miro.  Judith Murat Grubman was honorary chairman.   Chairmen included Colleen Bain, Caroline Collings, Linda Salandra-Dweck, Michele Kessler, Sandra Krakoff, Anne Moran, Monika Preston, Joan Rubin, Julie Rudolph, Laurie Silvers and Andrea Stark.

            The Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear, has played a key role in changing the course for many people living with low vision.  It is a world leader in Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) research that led ultimately to Lucentis, Avastin and other drugs that slow the progression of the disease. In addition, Schepens’ scientists are pioneers in the use of stem cells to repair damaged retinas in animal models, and are working to turn skin cells into stem cells to ultimately regenerate the retinas in humans. 

Schepens was the first research center to regenerate an optic nerve in animals, and are currently involved in testing adult stem cells to regenerate the optic nerve. Currently, Schepens scientists are working to prevent vision loss from diabetes and improve the drugs used to stop and reverse damage caused by leaking blood vessels in the eyes of patients with diabetic retinopathy. The Institute’s scientists are currently conducting clinical trials of new drugs to arrest dry eye syndrome, a painful condition that impacts hundreds of thousands across the globe.

            More information of Schepens Eye Research Institute is available by calling 1-877-724-3736 or at For more information about Mass. Eye and Ear, visit


Joyce Brooks

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