2021 ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award Announcement | ASCRS
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2021 ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award Announcement


Geoff Tabin, MD and Sanduk Ruit, MD selected for 2021 ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award

The ASCRS Foundation is proud to announce Geoff Tabin, MD and Sanduk Ruit, MD as the 2021 Chang-Crandall Humanitarian co-awardees. Endowed by a generous gift from David and Victoria Chang, and presented each year at the ASCRS Annual Meeting, the ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award was established to honor and recognize outstanding humanitarian work with a focus on cataract blindness and disability. In 2020, the ASCRS Foundation renamed its highest honor the Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award in posthumous recognition of Alan S. Crandall, MD's exemplary life and commitment to charitable service.

A $50,000 prize is awarded to a charitable ophthalmology organization of the winner’s choosing. From more than 85 nominations submitted, Drs. Tabin and Ruit received the highest vote totals from the Review Committee and the ASCRS Foundation Board has chosen to name them co-winners. In recognition, David and Victoria Chang will double the award to $100,000 for this year.

Drs. Tabin and Ruit embody the spirit of the award through their 25-year dedication to humanitarian work in some of the most impoverished areas of the Himalayas and Sub-Saharan Africa.

"Geoff and Sanduk have not only delivered exceptional eye care in the Himalayan region since 1994 but have created the infrastructure to sustain continuous care by educating and empowering the community to be part of HCP's outreach. They generously share best practices learned from their experiences to inspire others to work in underserved communities around the world. They are the model and standard for global care today." – Ann Kelman, Nominating Committee Member

Dr. Tabin is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Himalayan Cataract Project and a Professor of Ophthalmology and Global Medicine at Stanford University.

"A man and physician with unmatched energy and vision - and an infectious passion for the possible – Tabin has spent his entire ophthalmic career traveling, partnering, teaching, serving, and advocating for the millions of people who are unnecessarily blind. A curious, intelligent, adventurous young man who found success in the world of mountaineering, and through those experiences, discovered the dire need for eye care and the miracle of cataract surgery. Millions of lives have been helped by his local partners and colleagues in these remote places. I don't believe a day passes that he is not actively working towards the eradication of cataract blindness in our world." – Eric Hansen, MD

Dr. Tabin is the fourth person in the world to reach the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. His passion for mountain climbing directly influenced his medical career. After summiting Mt. Everest, he later came across a Dutch team performing cataract surgery on a woman who had been needlessly blind for three years. It was then he understood his life’s calling.

Tabin graduated from Yale University and earned an MA in Philosophy at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. He then earned his MD from Harvard Medical School. After completing an ophthalmology residency at Brown University and a fellowship in corneal surgery in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Tabin returned to Nepal to work with Dr. Sanduk Ruit.

Sanduk Ruit’s singular mission has been to provide world-class eye care to patients regardless of ability to pay. A masterful surgeon, he regularly works in eye camps performing dozens of small incision surgeries on mature cataracts during grueling 12-hour days.

Dr. Ruit was born in Olangchungola, a remote village in Eastern Nepal. His sister died of tuberculosis when he was 17, an experience that led him to become a doctor. After completing a three-year ophthalmology residency at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, India, Ruit returned to Nepal.

It was while working on a Nepal Blindness Survey that Ruit choose his life’s path: to restore sight to those unnecessarily blind. He was the first Nepali doctor to implant IOLs and he pioneered a manual, small incision method for delivering high-volume, cost-effective cataract surgeries in remote eye camps often accessible only on foot. In 1994, he founded the Tilganga Eye Center in Kathmandu which treats now 6,000 patients a week and provides much of the country’s sub-specialty eye care.

"Dr. Ruit is an extraordinary leader who has impacted how ophthalmic care is delivered in both the developing and developed worlds. His commitment to decreasing morbidity from human disease in his home country of Nepal is truly inspirational. Ophthalmology has been blessed with several outstanding visionaries who have brought modern cataract surgery to underserved communities. What makes Sanduk truly special is his personal dedication and sacrifice in bringing his vision to fruition." Kuldev Singh, MD

Together, Tabin and Ruit established the Himalayan Cataract Project in 1995 – vowing to eliminate preventable and treatable blindness from the Himalayan region in their lifetime, a goal, in Tabin’s words, "more audacious than setting out to make the first assent of the East Face of Mount Everest." Their programs train and support ophthalmologists throughout Southeast Asia, and Africa.

"It gives us great joy to receive this incredible honor which is associated with two of our heroes, David Chang and the late Alan Crandall; legends of global medicine and among the most dedicated and kindest ophthalmologists we know. We stand on the shoulders of so many giants who’ve taught and inspired us and are excited to continue working with the ASCRS Foundation and its members to overcome the travesty of needless blindness in our world." – Geoff Tabin, MD and Sanduk Ruit, MD

Tabin and Ruit have earmarked the financial prize to the Himalayan Cataract Project/CureBlindness.org for their work in overcoming needless blindness in Nepal.

Read more about the ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award here.

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