Moran Eye Center

John A. Moran Eye Center
University of Utah Health Care

Moran Eye Center
at the University of Utah medical complex
Location 65 Mario Capecchi Drive[1]
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Care system Public
Affiliated university University of Utah
Founded c. 1993
Lists Hospitals in Utah

The John A. Moran Eye Center is an academic medical center offering comprehensive, multi-specialty care, basic, translational and clinical research, ophthalmology residency and fellowship training, and local and international humanitarian outreach. It is located on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah and is a department within the University of Utah Health Care system.

University of Utah Health Care is one of only two academic medical centers to rank in the top 10 for quality by the University HealthSystem Consortium five years in a row.[2]


The Division of Ophthalmology at the University of Utah began as a one-person operation in 1979 with ophthalmologist and cornea specialist Randall J Olson, MD. In 1982, the division was accorded departmental status and a year later Dr. Olson was selected as the first chairman of the department. Today he still retains his position as Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. In addition, he is the CEO of the John A. Moran Eye Center.

The first John A. Moran Eye Center was built in 1993 and was largely paid for by donations, with a lead gift from University of Utah alumnus John A. Moran. The 85,000-square foot facility quickly became too small for the growing department, and in 2006, the Moran Eye Center moved its current 210,000-square foot location on Mario Capecchi Drive. Lead donors to the new building included John Moran, the ALSAM Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, and the E.R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation. Moran has nine additional clinical locations along the Wasatch Front.

Clinical Care

The Moran Eye Center provides comprehensive and routine care as well as the following subspecialties:


Corneal Disease


Geriatric Eye Disease


Neuro Ophthalmology

Ocular Pathology

Oculoplastics and Reconstructive Surgery

Ocular Oncology

Optometry and Contact Lens

Pediatric Ophthalmology

Pediatric Retina

Photodynamic therapy

Refractive Surgery/LASIK

Strabismus and Muscle Disorders

Vitreoretinal disease and surgery

Uveitis and Ocular Infectious Disease

Urgent Care (Triage)

Including its satellite locations Moran has over 120,000 patient visits per year, including more than 6,000 surgeries.

The Moran Eye Center is home to the Utah Lions Eye Bank, which serves as a coordinating center for eye tissue donated by Utahns upon their death.

Moran also offers a patient support program for patients facing vision loss and their families. This program offers the following services: Orientation to Vision Loss Seminar, Individual and Family Counseling, Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention, Support Groups, and Referrals to many agencies that provide assistance to the blind.

Research and Clinical Innovations

Moran’s research staff includes more than 60 PhDs in 16 labs who conduct ophthalmology research addressing a range of eye conditions and diseases. Moran researchers are involved in dozens of clinical trials each year involving more than 2,700 clinical visits. In 2014, the Moran Eye Center ranked seventh among Ophthalmology departments for NIH funding, receiving $7,897,335.[3]

Retinal Connectome for Vision

The Marc Lab at the Moran Eye Center, working with teams at the University of Utah Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute and the University of Colorado Boulder, completed the first connectome dataset: the Retinal Connectome for Vision. The project utilized high-speed automated imaging and automated computational map-building. To accomplish this, the Marc Lab built specialized connectome viewing software to allow researchers to see into large images and trace their connections. The tools used to build this connectome are revolutionizing neuroanatomy and have been made freely available to all scientists worldwide.

Intermountain Ocular Research Center

The Moran Eye Center is home to the Intermountain Ocular Research Center a nonprofit, independent laboratory that performs basic, in depth scientific research on intraocular lenses. In addition, the Center provides services and education to surgeons, clinical ophthalmologists, their patients, and intraocular lens manufacturers worldwide.

Contributions to Phacoemulsification Research

Researchers and students at the Moran Eye Center created the cubinator, a device used to divide porcine nuclei into uniform cubes with densities similar to 3-4+ human nuclei. This published and validated model creates thousands or cataract tissue samples which can be hardened or softened as a given study design requires. The device and processed tissue allow new technologies and surgical techniques to be objectively evaluated for safety and efficiency, as the treated lenses are an exact approximation of human lenses at various levels of hardness.[4]


The Moran Eye Center was recently a study site for AREDS 2,[5][6] a major study on nutrition and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) published in May 2013. This was a follow up to AREDS, a National Eye Institute-sponsored that enrolled over 3500 subjects and followed them for an average of 6.3 years. The researchers found that subjects who took the antioxidant supplement consisting of high doses of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene were less likely to have progression of their disease relative to the placebo group (20% versus 28%). AREDS2 was a follow-up study that enrolled over 4200 AMD subjects at 85 sites across the United States for 5 years that tried to incorporate newer knowledge of ocular nutrition gained since the time AREDS was initiated.

CentraSight telescope

Moran was the first eye center in Utah to perform a procedure implanting a CentraSight telescope, used for patients with end-stage AMD.[7]

Corneal Collagen Crosslinking Study

Moran is also a site for the US Corneal Collagen Crosslinking Study. Corneal collagen cross-linking uses UV light and a photosensitizer to strengthen chemical bonds in the cornea. The goal of the treatment is to halt progressive and irregular changes in corneal shape known as ectasia.

Moran Center for Translational Medicine

The Moran Center for Translational Medicine (CTM) was established in 2009 to more quickly and cost-effectively turning scientific discoveries into clinically-effective diagnostics and therapies for blinding eye conditions. The CTM is currently focused on finding a better treatment for age-related macular dege[8] neration (AMD), and has collected more than 6,200 pairs of eyes from human donors, most with detailed patient histories and genetic profiles. In addition, Moran’s Center for Translational Medicine has access to vast medical family history records from the Utah Population Database, patient ophthalmology history, donor serum, and the latest infrared imaging technology. In January 2014, the CTM entered into a unique 5-year partnership with Allergan Inc. to work together to develop a therapy for AMD.[9]

The CTM is directed by Gregory S. Hageman, PhD. In 2009, Hageman and his colleagues were awarded a $14.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study AMD.[10]

Awards and Honors

Moran Eye Center researchers and clinicians have won numerous top awards in the field, a sample of which includes:

2015 Phillip M. Corboy, MD, Memorial Award for Distinguished Service in Ophthalmology from the Hawaiian Eye Foundation (Randall J Olson, MD)[11]

2014 Charles D. Kelman Lecture from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Randall J Olson, MD)[12]

2014 Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Alan S. Crandall, MD)[13]

2014 Retina Research Foundation’s Paul Kayser International Award in Retinal Research (Robert E. Marc, PhD)[14]

2014 Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence from the University of Utah (Randall J Olson, MD)[15]

2014 Proctor Medal from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (Wolfgang B. Baehr, PhD)[16]

2014 Hedi Fritz Niggli visiting professor at the University of Zurich (Kathleen B. Digre, MD, inaugural award)[17]

2013 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Binkhorst Lecture and Medal (Nick Mamalis, MD)[18]

2013 National Institutes of Health Audacious Goals Challenge (Yingbin Fu, PhD)[19]

2012 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Binkhorst Lecture and Medal (Randall J Olson, MD)[18]

2012 Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence from the University of Utah (Kathleen B. Digre, MD)[15]

2008 Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Geoffrey Tabin, MD)

The Guinness Book of World Record’s Youngest Doctor, Balamurali K. Ambati, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A. is a Professor of Ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center specializing in Cornea and Refractive Surgery. He also heads a research laboratory dedicated to investigating the molecular mechanisms of angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels.[20]

In 2009, Geoffrey Tabin, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology and Co-Director of the Moran Outreach Division and Co-Director of the Himalayan Cataract Project was named an Unsung Hero by the Dalai Lama for his work curing blindness around the world.[21] In 2011 Dr. Tabin was also a keynote speaker at a dinner event held in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.[22]


Moran offers a three-year residency program (not including transitional/preliminary year) that is approved and accredited by the American Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Hands-on training is a key component of the residency program, and residents perform approximately 300 cataract extractions and almost 400 other major surgical operations during their training, while supervised by an attending faculty member.

The Moran Eye Center is the recipient of a yearly resident scholarship from the ARCS Foundation, a nationally-recognized nonprofit started and run entirely by women to boost American leadership and aid advancement in science and technology. $15,000 is awarded to one resident in each year to allow that resident to pursue a research focus and lay the groundwork for a productive academic career.[23][24]

The Moran Eye Center offers the following Ophthalmology Fellowship programs to patients who have completed residency in the United States :

Cornea/Refractive Surgery Glaucoma Neuro-Ophthalmology Retina International Ophthalmology

Outreach Division

Moran’s Outreach Division has trained 85 ophthalmologists from 25 countries since 2009. Moran physicians aim to identify and train gifted and energetic young doctors who will go on to become leaders and teachers in their home countries. The Moran Eye Center Outreach Division partners extensively with the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana and the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal.

In summer 2014 the Moran Eye Center Outreach Division led a medical mission to Guatemala where they were accompanied by US Senator and ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R-KY). Moran was recommended to Paul by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.[25]

Moran Eye Center physicians and residents also provide charitable care at local low-income clinics including at the Fourth Street Clinic, Maliheh Clinic, and People’s Health Clinic. After identifying many clinic patients in need of surgery, Moran created Charity Surgery Days, twice-yearly Saturdays where low-income patients receive free, sight-restoring surgeries. In 2014 Moran’s model was adopted by the ASCRS Foundation for their Operation Sight network.[26][27]

Since 2013, the Outreach Division has also provided clinical and surgical care to low-income, uninsured patients on the Utah strip of the Navajo Nation.[28]

The Moran Eye Center Outreach Division is entirely funded by donations.


  1. "Mario Capecchio Drive" has been named "Medical Drive" and "North Wasatch Drive" and "North 1900 East Street" in the past.
  2. "Our Commitment to Quality". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  3. "Ranking Tables of National Institutes of Health (NIH) Award Data 2014". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  4. "Porcine lens nuclei as a model for comparison of 3 ultrasound modalities regarding efficiency and chatter.". Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  5. "AREDS2.ORG". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  6. "For the Media: Questions and Answers about AREDS2 - National Eye Institute". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  7. Tribune, The Salt Lake. "Utah Local News - Salt Lake City News, Sports, Archive - The Salt Lake Tribune". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  8. "Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking - EyeWiki". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  9. Tribune, The Salt Lake. "Utah Local News - Salt Lake City News, Sports, Archive - The Salt Lake Tribune". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  10. "$14.6 Million NIH Grant To UI Will Build On Macular Degeneration Findings - University News Service - The University of Iowa". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  11. "Olson receives the Philip M. Corboy award". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  12. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 22, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 19, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  14. "ISER: International Society for Eye Research". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  15. 1 2 "Rosenblatt Prize". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  16. "2014 Achievement Award recipients". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  17. "Moran Eye Center Doctor Selected as First Hedi Fritz Niggli Visiting Professor at University of Zurich - Business Wire". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  18. 1 2 "ASCRS Binkhorst lecture - ASCRS". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  19. "Moran Eye Center doctor receives award". 12 February 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  20. "Ambati Laboratory - U of U School of Medicine - University of Utah". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  21. "New Unsung Heroes - Recognizing Everyday Heroes". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  22. "Press". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  23. "Academic Partners | ARCS Utah". Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  24. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 14, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  25. "Rand Paul's eye-opening summer recess". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 29, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  27. Lauren Lipuma (September 2014). "ASCRS Foundation launches national charity cataract surgery initiative". Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  28. MoranEyeCenter (15 December 2014). "Moran Eye Center: Restoring Sight on the Navajo Nation June 2014". Retrieved 28 June 2016 via YouTube.
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