LEWIS J. ORT CHAIR IN OPHTHALMOLOGY
Established in 1989 by the Lewis J. Ort family

Cumberland, Maryland, businessman LEWIS J. ORT devoted exceptional energy to improving his community and state, having chaired and served on scores of boards from the Shriners, where he spearheaded establishment of a burn treatment center in Santo Domingo, to the Maryland Advisory Committee on Economic Development. After treatment at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Mr. Ort chaired the advisory board, increasing its size and influence. Prior to retirement, he was president of Ort's Incorporated and Fibred, both baking companies, where he developed a special process for producing soy fiber used in diet breads and a patented process for non-staling bread. Mr. Ort died in 2001.

 

JUSTIN HANES is the Lewis J. Ort Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at The Johns Hopkins University, with secondary appointments in biomedical engineering, chemical & biomolecular engineering, environmental health sciences, neurosurgery, and oncology. He is the director of the Center for Nanomedicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His degrees are in chemical engineering from UCLA (BS) and MIT (PhD), and he completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in oncology and neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins prior to beginning his faculty position in 1998.

Dr. Hanes is a leader of research at the interface of nanotechnology and medicine, a field sometimes referred to as “nanomedicine.” He is known for designing and synthesizing new biodegradable plastics, with which his research group creates nanoscopic, drug/gene-filled particles capable of targeted delivery to specific sites in the body. His lab recently discovered methods to make drug- and gene-loaded particles that efficiently penetrate mucus barriers for the first time, which may allow more effective therapies for diseases that affect the eye. His lab is also known for pioneering the use of high-resolution particle tracking in the field of nanomedicine; this technique provides insight into the barriers faced by nanoscopic drug and gene carrier particles and, therefore, allows the rational development of more effective systems.

Several products have been tested in clinical trials based on Dr. Hanes and his colleagues’ drug delivery particle inventions, for which he is an inventor on more than 15 patent estates. Dr. Hanes has delivered more than 90 invited presentations, including a keynote lecture titled “Advancing Health Through Innovations in Drug Delivery” at the 2009 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Conference on Evolving Science and Technology in Physical Pharmacy and Biopharmaceutics. Dr. Hanes has been named among the “World’s Top 100 Young Innovators” by the MIT Technology Review and has received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, The Controlled Release Society Young Investigator Award, and the Ebert Prize, awarded by the American Pharmaceutical Association and American Chemical Society for the "best report of original investigation of a medicinal substance.” Dr. Hanes currently serves as the principle investigator on several grants from the NIH and other agencies. He has served as associate editor for the International Journal of Nanomedicine, associate editor for Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, and as an editorial board member for both the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology and Experimental Biology in Medicine.

Since joining the Wilmer Eye Institute in December 2009, Dr. Hanes has focused his research on understanding the barriers presented by the eye that prevent more effective sustained and/or targeted drug and gene therapies and on the design of improved drug and gene delivery strategies for the eye. Specific five-year research goals include characterizing the barrier properties of the mucus layer coating the eyes; designing new nanomedicines that bypass the mucus barrier of the eyes (to reduce required frequency of administration of several classes of drugs); producing safe synthetic nanoparticles that efficiently deliver therapeutic genes to various cell types within the eye, including the back of the eye and the surface; and testing these various new systems in animal models of eye disease with collaborators from the Wilmer Eye Institute and elsewhere.