Ted and Melza Barr

Gratitude and respect
erase the miles in supporting research

Houston neighbors and friends often ask Ted and Melza Barr why they support a cause 1,500 miles away from their home. The answer has a little something to do with the fact that Ted grew up in Sacramento, they both attended McClatchy High School and still keep a home in the region – and much to do with how they feel about the work of the UC Davis Eye Center.

“One of our great satisfactions is supporting research that is successful. We feel that the UC Davis Eye Center has the potential to greatly affect retinal disease; with the development of new therapies by an outstanding group of scientists, this research project can help reduce eye disease internationally,” Ted Barr says.

Barr’s past professional endeavors as a successful petroleum geologist in the international oil business led him to spend significant amounts of time in developing areas of West Africa where he and his company contributed greatly to the medical needs of the community. Earlier in his career, while working in Indonesia, Barr faced a possible glaucoma diagnosis, which thankfully proved negative. However, that experience led the Barrs toward a long history of supporting glaucoma research – and ultimately, to meeting UC Davis ophthalmologists James Brandt and Mark Mannis.

“I was greatly impressed by the Eye Center’s outstanding professionalism, state-of-the-art competence and genuine friendliness,” Barr says.

The Barrs were so impressed that they recently made a generous donation to the Eye Center. The Barrs’ family foundation gift will help fund the Retina Research Program, a set of studies developing new therapies for degenerative and ischemic retinal disease utilizing a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach and incorporating both stem cell and gene replacement therapy. The fruits of this groundbreaking research – and of the Barrs’ generosity – are sure to affect patients from Sacramento to Houston and across the globe.