A Legacy of Outstanding Research
Dr. V. Everett Kinsey
Co-founder and first director of the ERI, Dr. V. Everett Kinsey was the recipient of the 1956 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award from the Lasker Foundation for his outstanding work as coordinator of the National Cooperative Study of Retrolental Fibroplasia.
With the help of 75 ophthalmologists and pediatricians in 18 hospitals, this study confirmed conclusively earlier observations that the incidence of blindness among premature babies increased with the duration of exposure to oxygen.
Previous research had eliminated other possible etiologic agents, such as virus infection, lack of hormones in the infant, exposure of the premature infant's eyes to light, lack of vitamin A in the mother, the administration of various vitamins and iron, blood transfusions and cow's milk. Dr. Kinsey, a biochemist, had participated in many of the studies on these possible agents.
Within a period of six months, data were accumulated through the cooperative study that would have taken a single hospital several years. Among babies weighing less than 1500 grams at birth, 25 percent of the infants receiving routine oxygen developed cicatricial retrolental fibroplasia, while only 6 percent of the infants on curtailed oxygen had the condition. The study showed that limiting the oxygen was without effect on survival.
In the United States alone, putting into effect the results of this coordinated research should prevent blindness in several hundred premature infants each year.