Biotechnology Blindness

Tej Kohli: How bold science delivers life-changing cures.

tej kohli bold science

Tej Kohli is the founder of the not-for-profit Tej Kohli Foundation whose ‘Rebuilding You’ philosophy supports the development of scientific and technological solutions to major global health challenges whilst also making interventions to rebuild people and communities around the world. Tej Kohli is also an impact investor who backs growth-stage artificial intelligence and robotics ventures through the Kohli Ventures investment vehicle. Tej Kohli’s blog is #TejTalks and he is the author of Rebuilding You: The Philanthropy Handbook.

Twitter @MrTejKohli.
Francisco Lopera
Francisco Lopera, a neurologist, has been painstakingly collecting brains, birth and death records from one sprawling Colombian family to study Alzheimer’s. Credit: The New York Times

This week an annual report arrived on my desk from Massachusetts Eye And Ear Hospital in Boston. The modest 21-page report leads with the news that it’s ‘Bold Science. Life-Changing Cures’ campaign has now raised an astounding $252 million from donors.

The closure of this fundraising represents an epoch that mirrors the founding of the hospital 200 years ago by two young doctors with a single goal: that the blind may see and the deaf may hear. The new funds will advance world-leading research and bring urgently needed treatments to the many millions of people who need them.

My own contribution to this campaign is well-documented elsewhere and the YouTube channel of the Tej Kohli Foundation includes a playlist of videos from the Harvard Medical School professors who are leading the projects of the Tej Kohli Cornea Program.

The Tej Kohli Cornea Program is just one part of many activities that are ongoing under the ‘Bold Science’ umbrella. And what is striking — and worthy of reproducing in this short blog post — are some of the innovations that are emerging from other programs that have been funded by the ‘Bold Science’ campaign.

Take for example Dr Chen, who is moving ever closer to achieving his goal of developing treatments for hearing loss and deafness. He and his team have used a novel gene-editing technique to successfully halt the progression of genetic hearing loss and have discovered a new way to regenerate hair cells, which is a critical step in developing a treatment for hearing loss.

Another amazing example is Joseph Arboleda-Velasquez MD PhD, who after years studying strokes, translated his expertise and knowledge to eye research. Now he is using his experience in eye disease to tackle Alzheimer’s. His team has discovered a rare gene mutation that appears to be protective, making the carrier resistant to developing Alzheimer’s. This is one of the biggest ever breakthrough’s in Alzheimer’s and was on the front page of the New York Times.

Such amazing advances in bold science do not require comment as they clearly speak for themselves. For a long time, one of the major promises of technology has been that it has the potential to significantly improve human life. That we are today living in an era when this promise is starting to be proven true is perhaps the most remarkable thing of all.

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