The Tej Kohli Foundation has pledged $2 million over five years to establish the Tej Kohli Cornea Program at Mass. Eye and Ear, which will accelerate innovative and collaborative research to achieve unprecedented breakthroughs in corneal disease.
“We are really excited to embark on this partnership with the Tej Kohli Foundation in curing corneal blindness around the world,” says Joan W. Miller, MD, Chief of Mass. Eye and Ear and Chair of Harvard Ophthalmology. “Corneal blindness is the third-leading cause of blindness worldwide, with 10 million people having bilateral corneal blindness."
The gift will enable James Chodosh, MD, MPH; Michael Gilmore, PhD; and Reza Dana, MD, MSc, MPH, to pursue innovative solutions for corneal blindness.
With support from the gift, Drs. Chodosh and Gilmore are leading the Nanostring Project to develop a rapid diagnostic technology that would allow for early detection of corneal infection before scarring or blindness occurs.
"This technology is a DNA-based molecular diagnostic tool that doesn't require the bacteria to grow. It can detect, in principle, as little as one DNA molecule," says Dr. Gilmore, who directs the Harvard Ophthalmology Infectious Disease Institute. His research focuses on the evolution and development of multidrug-resistant strains of bacteria and the development of new therapeutic approaches.
Developing a rapid, low-cost diagnostic tool would ultimately help speed access to care and prevent permanent blindness from infection, explains Dr. Chodosh. It could also be region-specific to reflect pathogens that are present in particular parts of the world. Dr. Chodosh is Associate Director of the Infectious Disease Institute and internationally known for his work on molecular virology, viral genomics, and viral epidemiology.
The Tej Kohli Foundation gift will also support the GelCORE project. This exciting and innovative technology is an adhesive biomaterial that could one day reduce the need for surgery to repair injuries to the cornea, including those who would currently require corneal transplantation.
Led by Dr. Dana, Co-Director of the Harvard Ophthalmology Cornea Center of Excellence, the GelCORE project has the potential to preserve sight in patients around the world who do not have access to human-transplanted tisuse. Learn more about GelCORE
The gift will also support pilot projects in corneal research.
The Tej Kohli Foundation also supports the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute at LV Prasad Eye Institute in India.