Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, has announced a $2 million pledge from London-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Tej Kohli in support of innovative corneal blindness research.
According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people in the world have a visual impairment and 39 million people are blind. While blindness, including 75 percent of corneal disease, often is curable, poverty leaves treatment out of reach for millions of people. According to WHO, 12.7 million of the world's blind are waiting for cornea transplants, including six million people in India, yet in any given year only one in seventy will receive one.
The gift from Kohli, the founder of the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad, India, will establish the Tej Kohli Cornea Program at MEE and enable researchers to pursue affordable, non-surgical solutions for corneal blindness, including the use of molecular technology for rapid diagnosis and early detection of corneal infection, as well as treatment with GelCORE, an adhesive biomaterial that can replace corneal tissue.
"Biotechnology is in a chain reaction of exponential technological progression and rapid development that offers unprecedented new opportunities to improve human life," said Kohli. "What we think we can achieve with biotechnology is a non-surgical solution to corneal blindness that can be applied through a syringe like a vaccine. Mass Eye and Ear is one of the leading centers of excellence in the world, and my $2 million donation is to help ensure that the development of a technological solution to eliminating corneal blindness becomes a reality."
(Photo credit: Gettyimages – tunatura)