Herbert Wertheim

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Dr. Herbert A. Wertheim is an Optometric Physician, inventor, engineer, scientist, educator, clinician, entrepreneur, philanthropist and community leader.He is the founder and president of Brain Power Incorporated, also known as (BPI), the world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic instruments, cosmetic and therapeutic tints for eyeglass lenses and diagnostic products for optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians and optical laboratories. He is or has been a majority shareholder, served as the chairman or board member of 18 private, NYSE or NASDAQ companies in banking, health care, aerospace, real estate, transportation and several diverse high tech industries. In 2011 he was awarded The Horatio Alger Metal of Distinguished Americans. In 2016 he was asked to join The Giving Pledge by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Dr. Wertheim serves as the Founding Chairman of the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine an advisor to The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida international University and Honorary Chairman of The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida. Wertheim has served as chairman of the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation since 1977 which has donated more than $100,000,000 to various organizations including the 1000 seat Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Concert Hall and Performing Arts Educational Center at Florida International University in Miami.

Professional background[edit]

Wertheim is a graduate of Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College), Florida, and the University of Florida, where he studied electrical and computer engineering. He also received a B.S. in optical engineering and a Doctor of Optometry from the Southern College of Optometry in association with the University of Tennessee Medical School.

He is a life member of Tau Beta Pi Honorary Engineering Society and was recognized as a "2009 Distinguished Engineering Alumnus" and was a commencement speaker at the University of Florida College of Engineering 2009 graduation ceremony. For many years he had a clinical practice specializing in visual neurology[6] and optometry at the University Eye and Medical Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Wertheim was a distinguished lecturer in Physiological Optics and Optometry at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and an Adjunct Professor of Physics in the graduate program at the University of Miami, Florida. He also served as director of the University of Tennessee Medical School Computer Center. He was one of the first NASA engineers at Cape Canaveral.

Brain Power Incorporated[edit]

Brain Power Incorporated,[7] founded in 1971 by Wertheim, manufactures over 4,000 products for eye care professionals and optical laboratories at its facilities in Miami, Florida and Rugby, UK. Building on the company's expertise in dyeing and tinting plastic eyeglass lenses, Wertheim introduced in 1983 ultraviolet-absorbing dyes that could be applied to finished lenses either by manufacturing laboratories or by individual optometrists.

Wertheim's invention of BPI's UV-absorbing technology insured that ultraviolet light all the way up to the edge of the visible spectrum was blocked from the user's eyes. More recently, BPI manufactured colored dyes that have been used in diagnosing and/or treating dyslexia,[1][2][3][4] autism,[5] Parkinson's-related dyskinesia[6] and childhood migraines.[7]

Florida International University[edit]

Wertheim served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Board member of the Florida International University Foundation from 1988 through 2001. He was a founding member of the Florida International University Board of Trustees at its establishment by the Florida Legislature in 2000 and was reappointed for a second term by Governor Bush in 2003.

As chairman of FIU's Academic Affairs Committee he won approval of the University's Trustees for the Medical College and was asked to chair the Medical College Initiative. After a multi-year legislative campaign including community and university involvement, the FIU Medical College was established.

FIU College of Medicine Logo

In May 2009, the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation made a $20 million contribution[8][9] which becomes $40 million with state matching funds to establish multiple endowments, including student scholarships, research fellowships, leadership lectures, medical community advancement and eight endowed chairs for the Medical College, including the first endowed chair in Optometry and Physiological Optics in any medical school. In June 2009, the FIU Board of Trustees named the new college the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in his honor and named him Founding Chairman of the College of Medicine and Trustee Emeritus of the University.

Wertheim and his wife Nicole have enabled gifts of millions of dollars to the University's music, theater, dance and business educational programs. Some of the gifts helped construct, equip, furnish and fund FIU School of Music graduate scholarships each year at the 750 seat Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Concert Hall and 300 seat theater at the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center (WPAC) at FIU.[10]

The Wertheim Concert Hall received almost $1 million from their foundation for a new concert organ donated in remembrance of his mother, Sydell Ida Wertheim. In 2007, the Wertheim Foundation purchased two additional teaching organs for the music school. The Wertheim Plant and Bio Research and Teaching Conservatory were the first named buildings at the University along with its adjacent case study and lecture hall. This modern facility is also used extensively by local and national groups for conferences, lectures and meetings.

In 1991 he endowed the Dr. Herbert A. Wertheim Lecture Series in Business Leadership. The lecture series allows MBA students, faculty and business leaders to participate and have an opportunity to interact with business leaders at a luncheon and private educational meetings.

In September 2013, FIU named the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences in honor of Dr. Wertheim's wife Nicole. This makes Florida International University the only university in the United States with a college of medicine and a college of nursing and health sciences named for a husband and wife.[11] This gift results in three endowed faculty chairs; the Innovation Opportunity Endowment, which encourages interdisciplinary research programs throughout the University; the Research Endowment, which will help draw doctoral students to the College; and the Scholarship Endowment, which is used to attract graduate students pursuing degrees as Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners or seeking doctorates in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech-language pathology.[12]

University of Florida[edit]

In October 2015, the University of Florida announced the naming of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering in honor of the Wertheim Family Foundation's gift of $50 million, which will, among other things, fund an 80,000 sq.ft. Engineering Innovation building and foster collaboration between the University of Florida and Florida International University.[13][14][15]


On April 8, 2011 Wertheim was formally inducted into the Horatio Alger Association in recognition of his personal and professional successes despite his humble and challenging beginnings. As a Horation Alger Award[8] recipient Wertheim had to overcome great adversity to achieve admirable accomplishments and serves as an example of achieving the American Dream and offers countless hours and resources to help others in need.[16]

The La Jolla Institute of Allergies and Immunology has elected Dr. Wertheim to serve as a director and research advisor in July 2013. The Institute's main focus is the understanding of the immune system's response to infectious agents, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and cancers.[17]

Other charitable activities[edit]

Wertheim has served as a member of numerous local and national charitable boards, including the University of Miami Citizens Board, Dade County Zoological Society, American Heart Association, Lighthouse for the Blind and the Boy Scouts of America. He was a founder of the Friends of Vail and the Vail Valley Citizen of the Year awards. He has also been a board member of the Vail Valley Foundation. He served on the board of the International SeaKeepers Society, an organization of yacht owners that collect scientific data using their boats and crew and then broadcast the data by satellite to universities and governments around the world.

Wertheim has served as chairman of the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation since 1977. It has supported hundreds of local and international educational, cultural, sporting and health care organizations around the world with millions of dollars in financial aid and grants. In 1987 the Foundation was the founding benefactor of the Koala and Asian River Otter projects at Miami MetroZoo.[18]

They funded the building of the public radio station in Vail, Colorado and educational TV repeaters in the Vail Valley. The Wertheim Foundation was the first to fund a five-year PBS contract for National Geographic and ten other science and cultural programs for WPBT Miami Public Television.


Wertheim and his wife Nicole spend their time boating, traveling and lecturing to eye care professionals and other health care providers around the world.


  1. ^ Williams MC, LeCluyse K, Rock-Faucheux A. Effective interventions for reading disability. J of the Am. Optom. Assoc. 1992; 63: 411-17.
  2. ^ Solan HA, Brannan J, Ficarra A, Byne R. Transient & Sustained Processing - A Dual subsystem Theory of Reading Disability. J Behavioral Optom. 1994; 5:149-154.
  3. ^ Solan, HA. The Effects of Varying Luminance and Wavelength on Reading Ability in Good and Poor Readers: Is there a Transient System Deficit? Am. Opt. Assoc. meeting, New Orleans: January 1996.
  4. ^ Blakeslee S. Study Ties Dyslexia to Brain Flaw Affecting Vision and Other Senses. The New York Times National; Sept 15, 1991: P1C3, P30,C3. (Copyright of the New York Times 1991)
  5. ^ Williams, Donna, Autism: an Inside-Out Approach, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1996
  6. ^ Riess, Thomas J., "Visual Cues and Parkinson's Disease", [1], 1999
  7. ^ P.A. Good, BSC, R.H. Taylor, F.R.C.S., F.C. Ophth, and M.J. Mortimer, M.R.C.G.P, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, Church Street, Birmingham B3 2NS, England, “The Use of Tinted Glasses in Childhood Migraine”, Published in "Headache," Sept. 1991, pp. 533-535
  8. ^ "FIU's $20M gift finally within sight", Miami Herald - June 12, 2009 - 1A Front
  9. ^ "Entrepreneur's Generosity Makes Wishes Come True At FIU", Miami Herald - August 9, 1998 - 1I Arts
  10. ^ WPAC page on fiu.edu site
  11. ^ Florida International University News Release, [2]
  12. ^ Florida International University Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences Annual Report, 2013-14.
  13. ^ University of Florida press release, [3]
  14. ^ University of Florida press release, [4]
  15. ^ "Local Philanthropist Donates $50M to UF," Miami Herald, September 30, 2015
  16. ^ Miami Herald, Dec.11, 2005 "FIU's Biggest Donor Was a Boy with Holey Shoes"
  18. ^ "What's New At The Zoo Amid The Mist And The Sounds Of The Jungle, You'll Discover The Fun Of Asian River Life", Miami Herald - August 3, 1990 - 13G Amusements