Nov 13, 2023

IRD Community Loses Usher Syndrome Research Trailblazer William Kimberling, PhD

Beacon Stories

Dr. Kimberling helped discover the identification and characterization of several genes that cause Usher syndrome.

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The Foundation Fighting Blindness is saddened to report the passing of William J. Kimberling, PhD, a pioneer in Usher syndrome research and a member of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board from 1999 to 2015.

Dr. Kimberling received his PhD in Medical Genetics from Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Kimberling worked at the Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, for over 40 years, where he served as Director of the Center for the Study and Treatment of Usher Syndrome and Director of the Gene Markers Laboratory. The creation of the William Kimberling Usher Research Laboratory was dedicated in 2015 to honor his hard work and commitment to families affected by Usher syndrome.

"Dr. Kimberling was our go-to Usher syndrome researcher and advocate for patients and families," said Amy Laster, senior vice president, science strategy and awards, Foundation Fighting Blindness. "From Capitol Hill to research seminars, to VISIONS Conferences, he passionately educated the world about Usher syndrome and the need for research to overcome it. His commitment to the Usher syndrome community was heroic."

Dr. Kimberling published more than 250 scholarly papers on a variety of topics, from population cytogenetics to kidney disease. He focused his studies on the genetics of sensory loss, specifically on combined vision and hearing loss, and his laboratory was responsible for the identification and characterization of several genes that cause Usher syndrome.

He received more than $1.5 million in awards from the Foundation Fighting Blindness and an additional $20,000 awarded to the Boys Town National Research Hospital during his tenure.

The Foundation is extremely grateful for Dr. Kimberling’s distinguished career and dedication to the Usher syndrome community.