Technological Breakthroughs In Corneal Disease

Tej Kohli has pledged $2 million to Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) in Boston to fund research into corneal blindness and the development of promising biotechnology solutions. MEE is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and its Department of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest vision research and clinical enterprise.

285 million people in the world have a visual impairment, according to the World Health Organization. However, a good proportion of blindness, including 75% of corneal disease, is curable. 91% of the world’s blind are awaiting cornea transplants, but only one in seventy of those on waiting lists receive a corneal transplant each year.

Tej Kohli believes new technologies will build a better world as he seeks to eliminate avoidable corneal blindness. The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad saw 167,321 outpatient visits, 26,269 donor corneas, utilising 15,784 cornea and completing 31,511 surgical procedures between 2016-2018.

The Tej Kohli Cornea Program at MEE will accelerate innovative and collaborative research and will pursue corneal blindness cures through prevention and treatment, including cutting-edge molecular technology for rapid diagnosis and early detection of corneal infection and GelCORE, an adhesive biomaterial for replacing corneal tissue. The clinician/scientists who will lead this are:

  • Reza Dana, MD, PhD, MSc, an internationally recognized expert in corneal disorders and ocular inflammation. Dr. Dana holds the Claes H. Dohlman Professorship in Ophthalmology at HMS and is director of the cornea service at MEE.
  • Michael Gilmore, PhD, is the founder and principal investigator of the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance. Dr. Gilmore holds the Sir William Osler Professorship in Ophthalmology at HMS.
  • James Chodosh, MD, MPH, holds the David G. Cogan Professorship in Ophthalmology in the field of Cornea and External Disease and is an associate director of the Infectious Disease Institute in the Department of Ophthalmology at HMS.

Tej Kohli’s goal of curing corneal blindness is also being pursued through business ventures and investments in technology. Kohli recently acquired a proprietary regenerative biotechnology that is currently in clinical trials. If successful as an off-the-shelf solution, Kohli believes that this regenerative biotechnology could be immediately relevant to up to one third of the 12.7 million who are currently waiting for corneal transplants world-wide.

Tej Kohli says: “Biotechnology is in a chain reaction of exponential technological progression and rapid development that offers unprecedented new opportunities to improve human life. We think we can achieve a non-surgical solution to corneal blindness that can be applied through a syringe. MEE is one of the leading centres of excellence in the world, and my donation is to help ensure eliminating corneal blindness becomes a reality.”

Joan W. Miller, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at HMS and Chief of Ophthalmology at MEE, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says: “We are deeply appreciative of this gift – Tej Kohli is passionate about curing corneal blindness around the globe and we at MEE are very pleased to partner with him as we develop the next generation of treatments and cures.”