Although the Kleins’ legacy continues to contribute to the body of vision science and ultimately, to the future of vision health, their last NIH grant will end in 2019. The Ocular Epidemiology Research Group’s remaining members are moving on, however, the methods employed in the Kleins’ studies will endure as epidemiological and medical researchers worldwide have adapted them.
James Onofrey, long-time administrator for the Kleins’ grants, reflects on their audacious pursuit of a vision. “They had the confidence to seek NEI-NIH funding for this type of study and the moxie to convince entire communities to continue their participation across the years. They maintained a long-standing research team to recruit, examine and re-examine these populations for more than three decades. This type of work can only be taken on by the most unflappable and determined researchers,” says Onofrey. “Patients in ophthalmology, diabetes, cardiovascular and geriatrics care have benefited without knowing the contributions made by these two researchers and their team. Both patients and researchers in places as far flung as the Netherlands, Australia and Singapore have benefitted from, and been inspired by, the research conducted by the Kleins. The ophthalmology world and the University of Wisconsin in particular owe them a debt of gratitude.”