Vision Science Research Program
Vision Science Research Program
Can we reverse age-related vision loss?
Vision Science Research Program
Studying the science of sight

A Brief History | Vision Science Research Program


A private charitable foundation, the Eye Research Institute of Canada (ERIC), begins fundraising for vision research in Toronto.


Under the leadership of founding Chair, Dr. William P. Callahan, the ERIC Board signs an agreement with the University of Toronto and The Toronto Hospital, launching ERIC as a research and training program within the University.


Dr. Robert Mitchell becomes Chair of the ERIC Board of Directors.


ERIC opens 20,000 square feet of laboratory, library and administrative space in the Toronto Western Hospital. Its founding Director, biophysicist Dr. John Stevens, establishes the genetics of blinding eye diseases as a major focus.


Visible Genetics, a company focused on the genetics of eye disease is launched at ERIC under Dr. Stevens' leadership. In 1997 when Dr. Stevens steps down, ERIC receives shares of Visible Genetics in return for the intellectual property he developed as Director.


Dr. Brenda Gallie becomes ERIC Director with a focus on the genetics of retinoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. Her subsequent research leads to astounding improvements in diagnosis and treatment of the condition.


Dr. Martin J. Steinbach, a vision scientist with close ties to ophthalmology, is appointed Director. Dr. Steinbach guides the program for 16 years through institutional changes that dramatically expand the program and its capacity to train emerging scientists.


Donald K. Johnson, Vice Chairman of Nesbitt Burns, becomes Chair of the ERIC Board of Directors. He begins negotiations with the Dean of Medicine, Dr. Arnie Aberman, to transform this private charity into the Vision Science Research Program.


The Vision Science Research Program (VSRP) is jointly created by the University Health Network and the University of Toronto with greatly enhanced capacity to support graduate trainees. A $17.25 million endowment fund is created by matching funds from ERIC’s Visible Genetics shares, with contributions from the University of Toronto and the province. It supports VSRP activities across the University of Toronto.


The Vision Science Research Program begins its expanded fellowship program for MSc and PhD students. Over the next 15 years, the program invests over $6.5 million in the training of 154 individuals.


Dr. Valerie Wallace becomes Director of the Vision Science Research Program. She holds the Donald K. Johnson Endowed Chair in Vision Science Research.


Chairs, Board of Directors (Volunteers)

1984 – 1992:  William P. Callahan, Toronto Ophthalmologist

1992 – 1998:  Robert Mitchell, Thoracic Surgeon

1998 – 2000:  Donald K. Johnson, Vice Chairman of Nesbitt Burns


Directors (Scientific)

1993 – 1996:  Dr. John Stevens

1996 – 1997:  Dr. Brenda Gallie

1998 – 2013:  Dr. Martin Steinbech

2013 – Present:  Dr. Valerie Wallace