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Bringing sight to the blind

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b1521 (Published 09 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1521
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

    When ophthalmologist Gullapalli N Rao sold up in the United States to start an eye institute in India, he didn’t know how big it would become. Zosia Kmietowicz reports

    When they set it up in 1987, the founders of the L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India, had one big ideal: to deliver top class eye care to the people of Andhra Pradesh in southeast India irrespective of ability to pay. After 22 years the institute boasts a formidable throughput of patients. From its inception to last year, the institute has seen four million outpatients and performed 400 000 operations, half of them free of charge.

    There were other aims too: ridding India of preventable blindness and forging an ethos of translational medicine, both lofty ambitions that the institute is working hard to deliver.

    The institute was nominated for the BMJ global leadership award at the inaugural BMJ awards earlier this month but lost to the bigger, more international charity the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    D Balasubramanian, director of research at the institute, who was in London to attend the award ceremony, says that running into colleagues in the institute’s corridors is key to taking research ideas from the laboratory to the bedside. With researchers and clinicians all working in the same building it becomes second nature to exchange ideas about what patients need and how to go about finding the solution, says Professor Balasubramanian.

    The institute …

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