The Tej Kohli Foundation continues to build its position as a multi-disciplinary global centre of focus for the development and advancement of an affordable, scalable and accessible ‘universal solution’ for preventing and eliminating corneal blindness. The World Health Organisation says that 90% of those affected by blindness and severe visual impairment live in the poorest countries in the world. Whilst approximately 75% of corneal disease is curable by corneal transplant, the costs of invasive surgery, and the many years of medicine needed to prevent rejection after surgery, makes this form of treatment entirely inaccessible to the majority of the people in the world who suffer from severe visual impairment or corneal blindness.
Tej Kohli co-founded the eponymous Foundation in 2005 alongside wife Wendy Kohli. He has previously spoken about funding life-changing corneal transplants in poor and underserved communities as being “like Schindler’s List, you do a few, then you just have to do more” (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2019/10/04/tej-kohli-indian-tech-billionaire-plans-turbocharge-britains/). In December 2019 the Tej Kohli Foundation announced that it had restored the sight of 5,736 blind people during the year (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191219005417/en/5736-World%E2%80%99s-Poorest-People-Received-Gift-Sight) and committed $14m of further funding to its Cornea Institute.
Tej Kohli is also an evangelist of the opportunities that can be derived from the chain reaction of technological progression and the impact that they can have on human life: https://www.spearswms.com/billionaire-philanthropist-tej-kohli-ai/. The new Tej Kohli Foundation incubator hopes to back projects that can leverage this chain reaction of technological progression to develop and deliver new techniques and applications and game-changing innovations for improving access. The Foundation is seeking to incubate between one and three new projects initially, and welcomes funding applications from all fields of expertise. Projects must show that they can make a significant impact by 2035.
The Tej Kohli Foundation funded its first donor cornea implants at Niramaya Hospital in India in 2010. After funding thousands of corneal transplants, in 2015 the Tej Kohli Foundation substantially expanded its efforts to tackle corneal blindness in poor and underserved communities with the ambitious launch the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad. Between January 2016 and November 2019 the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute welcomed more than 223,404 outpatients and completed more than 43,255 surgical procedures. The Tej Kohli Foundation has also pursued a ‘universal treatment’ for corneal blindness through its ‘Applied Research’ program, which is a longstanding scientific collaboration between researchers in Montreal Canada, and Moorfields Eye Hospital in the UK.
In January 2020 seed funding from the Tej Kohli Foundation was granted to two new research projects. The first project will focus on preventing corneal endothelial cell loss, which is usually permanent and is the leading reason for corneal transplantation worldwide. The second project will use novel drugs released by contact lenses to treat ocular surface pain and overcome the need for opioids when treating severe eye pain, which remains one of the unmet needs in Ophthalmology.
Eligible projects are invited to submit a 2-page project abstract as a PDF to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions will be considered by the Tej Kohli Foundation on a case-by-case basis in direct collaboration with its global network of specialists.
Wendy Kohli, co-Founder of the Tej Kohli Foundation said:
“The YouTube channel of the Tej Kohli Foundation has many stories of individuals who have been cured of severe visual impairment or corneal blindness. But the overwhelming majority of those living needlessly with blindness still cannot afford or access treatment. It is only through major innovations borne from research, science, technology and enterprise that we can move toward a world where nobody is needlessly blind because of poverty.”
Tej Kohli, co-Founder of the Tej Kohli Foundation said:
“There are many innovations already in the pipeline that could one day offer affordable, scalable and accessible solutions for prevention and cure in the poor and underserved communities where corneal blindness is most pervasive. At the Tej Kohli Foundation we are interested in backing and funding new innovations and projects that will accelerate progress toward the goal of eliminating poverty-driven corneal blindness worldwide by 2035.”
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