The Sigvard & Marianne Bernadotte Research Foundation for Children Eye Care was established in January 1990. The founders were Countess Marianne Bernadotte and the late Prince Sigvard Bernadotte. Support for the initial idea of this foundation was supplied by the late artist Sven-Inge deMonér and the current chairman, professor Gunnar Lennerstrand. The motto of the foundation is “Vision for the Future”, recognizing that vision, being low at birth can reach normal levels in adulthood only if proper visual stimulation is provided during childhood. Retarded visual development will lead to poor vision throughout life, and early detection of visual dysfunction and early treatment is of greatest importance in order to restore normal vision.
The by-laws state that the Foundation should promote good visual health in the child population and support scientific research on vision and eye care of children. A goal of the Foundation, announced already at the first meeting, is to create an institute for research and advanced eye care of children at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. In the following a description will be given of how the Foundation has fulfilled these objectives.
The members of the board in 1990 were: Professor, Nobel Laureate 1967, Ragnar Granit; Princess Marianne Bernadotte; Professor Gunnar Lennerstrand; Managing director Sven Wallgren; Professor Curt von Euler;Professor Ove Broberger; Dr Theol Bertil Persson; Artist Sven Inge Höglund.
The start and the development of funds
The first action to bring funds to the foundation was taken by Princess Marianne Bernadotte in arranging an auction at Bukowskis, the most important auction house in Stockholm. Over 200 works of art were solicited and registered in a catalogue with pictures, and already on February 13, 1990, the auction took place. The net result was about 1.2 million SEK for the foundation, a very good start in funding.
Through active work of the board members, contacts with the press and with the help of promotion material of various kinds, the foundation quite rapidly became known to the public. Grant applications to other foundations and institutions were relatively successful and increased the funds. A large donation of 5 million SEK from the TomtebodaSchool in 1991 constituted a major advance of funds and made it possible for the foundation to start to support pediatric ophthalmology in 1992 with grants for research and travel. Donations of varying amounts have been made to the foundation during the years, the most remarkable being donations at separate occasions, amounting to 50 million SEK, by the late Birgit and Gösta Törnlöf.
In addition to donations, the funds have increased by successful investments in stocks and other financial instruments, according to a placement strategy worked out in collaboration with the SE bank, handling the accounts of the foundation. At present the total value of funds is about 65 million SEK.
Funding of research
Research projects in pediatric ophthalmology have been funded yearly since 1992. Applications are solicited for presentation before May 1 and the applications are evaluated by the Scientific committee and presented to the board for decision at the annual meeting in June. Support has been given in the form of scholarships for travel and for research, grants to individual researchers or to the Bernadotte laboratories (see below). The amount of support supplied since 1992 is approximately 10 million SEK, with a marked increase in 2008 and 2009.
In addition to the fields of pediatric ophthalmology represented in the review chapters in this book, research has been supported also on retinal development, retinal dystrophies, retinal neovascularisation, visual evoked potentials, fetal alcohol syndrome, congenital glaucoma, ocular allergy, genetics of eye diseases, and visual handicap in children. The recipients of the research grants and scholarships are scientists from all of the medical schools in Sweden. Mainly the younger scientists have been supported and of 77 researchers being funded, 57 were in the beginning of their scientific carrier, most of them Ph.D. students. Of these young scientists 48 have finished their Ph. D. degree and 3 their Master degree, i.e. about 90% of them have graduated. The financial support given to them by the foundation would seem very well invested. A broad basis has been laid for future and expanding research in pediatric ophthalmology. The other funded scientists have been already established researchers.
The distribution between the Swedish medical schools of the scientists being funded is as follows: Stockholm 44, Gothenburg 16, Uppsala 8, Lund 3, Linköping 2 and Umeå 1. The distribution reflects the number of scientists active in pediatric ophthalmology at the different universities, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm having the largest number in the country.
The Prince Sigvard honorary lecture
In 1992 the board decided to institute an honorary lecture in the name of Prince Sigvard to acknowledge the accomplishments of a prominent researcher in the Nordic countries. Nominations are done by the board of the Nordic Pediatric Ophthalmology Association and presented to the board of the foundation for evaluation and decision. The award is presented at the Nordic Pediatric Ophthalmology meetings and the recipient gives a lecture.
The list of awardees at the different meetings is as follows:
1994 Helsinki – Mette Warburg, Köpenhamn
1996 Copenhagen – Göran Stigmar, Lund
1998 Lugarvatn, Iceland – Hans Fledelius, Köpenhamn
2001 Tromsö – Kerstin Strömland, Göteborg
2003 Uppsala – Heikki Erkillä, Helsingfors
2005 Åbo – Ruth Riise, Hamar
2007 Helsingör – Olav Haugen, Bergen
2009 Bergen – Gerd Holmström, Uppsala
2011 Iceland – Hanne Jensen, Copenhagen
The Marianne Bernadotte price
In 1994 the board of the foundation decided to create a price in the name of Marianne Bernadotte to be presented to a prominent Swedish clinical researcher still in the active phase of their carrier. Nominations for the price are supplied by the professors of ophthalmology in Sweden, for dicision by the board of the foundation. The price sum has been 50 000 SEK. At the price ceremony the awardee presents a price lecture, and the ceremony finishes with a musical event.
The list of price awardees is as follows:
1995 Kerstin Strömland, Göteborg
1997 Kristina Tornqvist, Lund
1999 Jan Ygge, Stockholm
2002 Lena Jacobson, Stockholm
2004 Gerd Holmström, Uppsala
2006 Ann Hellström, Göteborg
2008 Peter Jakobsson, Linköping
2010 Agneta Rydberg, Stockholm
2012 Anna-Lena Hård, Göteborg
The Bernadotte Laboratories for Pediatric Ophthalmology
The research in pediatric ophthalmology has been strong at the department of ophthalmology at Karolinska Institutet, particularly from the 1980-ies and onwards. The foundation has supported this research and the laboratories at the department from the beginning. When the laboratories were offered a new location at HuddingeUniversityHospital, they were officially announced as the Bernadotte Laboratories of Pediatric Ophthalmology and inaugurated by Prince Sigvard in March of 2000. The laboratories moved to the St. Erik Eye Hospital in March of 2002. In the laboratories about 20 researchers at different levels are active in studies of normal and abnormal development of the visual and oculomotor system, strabismus, dyslexia, pediatric neuro-ophthalmology, ocular manifestations in pediatric diseases, among others.
Teaching of pediatric ophthalmology for different categories of students and personnel is a prominent part of activities at the Bernadotte laboratories. The Laboratories are an important part of the newly created Bernadotte Institute at Karolinska Institutet for research and advanced eye care of children. This institute is a virtual one, combining research at the Bernadotte Laboratories with clinical work at St. ErikEyeHospital and AstridLindgenHospital for Pediatrics. Support for the institute from the foundation is directed to the Bernadotte Laboratories and to the hospitals through contracts between the foundation and the hospitals. The support includes scholarships and salaries for researchers at the hospitals and the laboratories, and funds for rent and equipment at the laboratories.
Collaboration with other foundations
The Bernadotte Foundation for Children’s Eyecare, Inc. was started 1993 in New York at the initiative of Princess Marianne Bernadotte and with support from business men and scientists with a Swedish background. Funds have been collected through auctions of donated art work and/or charity banquets. Such events have been held in New York 1994, Chicago 1997, Los Angeles 1999 and Palm Beach 2001, 2003 and 2005. The Foundation has supported three visiting researchers to the Bernadotte Laboratories in Stockholm, and researchers and doctors from developing countries to attend internal conferences of pediatric ophthalmology.
An association called The Friends of Sigvard and Marianne Bernadotte was started in 1997. The members of the association want to support the Bernadotte foundations of Art and of Pediatric Ophthalmology. The association arranges cultural activities for the members. The association donates the assets collected each year to the two foundations.
Publications supported by the Bernadotte Foundation
- Retinopathy of Prematurity. Reports from the Nordic Countries. Hans Fledelius, Gerd Holmström, Gunnar Lennerstrand, Eds. Acta Ophthalmologica, Volume 71, Supplement 210, 1993.
- Eye Movements in Reading. Jan Ygge and Gunnar Lennerstrand, Eds. Wenner-Gren International Series, Volume 64, Pergamon Press,Oxford, 1994.
- Pediatric Ophthalmology; some recent advances. Gunnar Lennerstrand, Ed. Acta Ophthalmologica Scandinavica, Volume 73, Supplement 214, 1995.
- Advances in Strabismus Research: Basic and Clinical Aspects. Gunnar Lennerstrand and Jan Ygge, Eds. Wenner-Gren International Series, Volume 78, Portland Press, London, 2000.
- Barnögonsjukdomar. Aktuell svensk forskning. Maj Ödman and Gunnar Lennerstrand, Eds. Johansson & Skyttmo Förlag, Stockholm, 2000.
- Advances in Pediatric Ophthalmology Research. Gunnar Lennerstrand and Gustaf Öqvist Seimyr, Eds. The Sigvard & Marianne Bernadotte Research Foundation for Children Eye Care. Stockholm, 2010.
Members of the board of trustees
Countess Dr med h c Marianne Bernadotte
Professor, Nobel laureate 1981, Torsten Wiesel (honorary chairman)
Professor Gunnar Lennerstrand (chairman)
Managing director Sven Wallgren (vice chairman)
Professor Anders Persson (secretary)
Director Gunilla Stenberg Stuckey
Professor Jan Ygge
BM Christina Lagergren
University secretary Ulla-Britt Schützler- Peterson