An iconoclast, technologist, and investor, Tej Kohli seeks to use all of his knowledge and skills to ease the suffering of people worldwide. Kohli states, “My mission is a world where nobody is blind because they cannot afford or access treatment.” He doesn’t just make grand statements, but backs them up with tangible goals, like ridding the world of poverty-driven corneal blindness by 2035.
In a World Health Organization report, there are roughly 45 million individuals worldwide who are visually impaired because of corneal disease. Those who have minimal vision through corneal infection number almost 135 million, and corneal diseases are the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, only behind cataracts. With the sheer number of people who have been inflicted with blindness through treatable disease, in many developing countries there has been a backlog of cases.
Faced with this world-wide epidemic, and through a collaboration with Harvard Medical School, the Tej Kohli Cornea Program is dedicated to researching innovative ways to prevent and cure diseases of the cornea. The goal for the Tej Kohli Cornea Program is to create low-cost and easy-to-produce treatments to use in developing nations.
In an interdisciplinary pursuit, the Tej Kohli Cornea Program uses innovative molecular technology to diagnose and treat the corneal infections. The most interesting development that has come from this program has been the GelCORE material, a synthetic adhesive biomaterial that replaces and mimics human corneal tissue. This innovative gelatin-based biomaterial could provide a sutureless repair of corneal injuries. Those who suffer from infection to their eyes could receive fast, effective, and non-invasive treatment through the use of groundbreaking naturally derived bioadhesive materials like GelCORE.
In addition, the Tej Kohli Applied Research programme seeks to gather the world’s top ophthalmologists, in the pursuit of creating affordable, accessible, and scalable treatments to a variety of eye diseases found throughout the world. By gathering decades of experience, the applied research program can create holistic approaches to treatable diseases which focus on creating a better quality of life for their patients. Having real-world experience, and knowing the plight of people in developing nations, allows the Tej Kohli Applied Research programme to come up with practical solutions to human suffering.
These advances in medical technology which Tej Kohli has funded are wholly humanitarian in nature. Instead of funding experimental projects, the Teg Kohli Cornea Program will have a direct influence in the world. From January 2016 and November 2019, the Tej Kohli Corneal Institute welcomed 223, 404 patients and carried out 43, 255 surgeries. The advances in technology that were discovered through the Tej Kohli Cornea Program aided these surgeries.
Tej Kohli infused a holistic ethos into the Tej Kohli Foundation with his “Rebuilding You” philosophy, based on the idea that starting with eliminating blindness around the world, the lives of people can be transformed. This ambitious goal will ultimately lead to an economic resurgence in those communities affected by poverty-driven corneal blindness.