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Sept. 21, 2015

Emory Eye Center adjunct professors win major international award

Paul Courtright and Susan Lewallen, MD

2015 António Champalimaud Vision Recipients

(ATLANTA) The co-directors of Emory Eye Center’s inaugural global ophthalmology program have been awarded the 2015 Champalimaud Vision Award for the Kilimanjaro Project in Africa. Paul Courtright, DrPH, and Susan Lewallen, MD, co-directed the Eye Center’s inaugural Global Ophthalmology Emory Initiative beginning in 2011 until fall 2013, when permanent director Danny Haddad, MD, joined the Eye Center. Courtright and Lewallen currently serve as visiting scholars and adjunct professors at Emory.

The 2015 António Champalimaud Vision Award “recognizes the efforts of organizations working with limited resources but able to overcome difficulties to produce visible change.” The award can help contribute to this effort to change the lives of thousands of people, especially children, who still live under conditions of extreme poverty and curable blindness. The work will give vision back to many and ensure that many others may not later lose sight.

The prestigious award, the world’s largest in the area of vision, is worth €1M. The Kilimanjaro Project comprises three organizations active in sub-Saharan Africa: the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO), the Seva Foundation and Seva Canada. The Kilimanjaro Project operates in one of Africa’s most dramatic settings, in an area ravaged by extreme poverty, natural disasters, disease and blindness, affecting unimaginable numbers of people. 

“Paul Courtright and Susan Lewallen are remarkable leaders of the KCCO,” says Emory Eye Center director Timothy W. Olsen, MD.  “At Emory, we are extremely proud of their tireless work and that they shared the Champalimaud Vision Award. The KCCO does a tremendous amount of sustainable good, and they are excellent stewards of their resources.”

Courtright serves as director of KCCO International, and Lewallen as research advisor. Their collaboration with the Seva Foundation and Seva Canada have helped achieve the common goal of fighting blindness and poverty in Africa. The three groups have been able to achieve their goals through microcredit and microfinance solutions. Their clinical, scientific, social and finance tools help support sustainable health and finance solutions led by African teams. By helping sustain such activities as crafts and providing the ability to turn that into the service of the Africa people, they help provide a sustainable development for the people.

 “This award recognizes the work KCCO has done to build capacity throughout Africa to enable Africans to have access to high quality efficiently provided eye care,” says Paul Courtright, director, KCCO International. “We do not provide eye care services, instead, we enable Africans to receive eye care provided by Africans in well-run facilities. And, we work to generate the evidence to improve programs, policies and practices for quality eye care in Africa,” he adds.

The mission of the Champalimaud Foundation is to develop programs of advanced biomedical research and provide clinical care of excellence, with a focus on translating pioneering scientific discoveries into solutions which can improve the quality of life of individuals around the world.

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