Dr. Virender Singh Sangwan is a practicing ophthalmologist hailing from Haryana, who first trained at the Maharshi Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Rohtak, Haryana, then at the L. V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, and later at the Harvard Medical School at Boston, MA, USA. He is currently an Associate Director at the L. V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad. What is admirable about him is his spirit of innovation, his ability to realise the implications of a development in basic biology, and willingness to adapt and apply it to the clinical situation and obtain results. It is this willingness and ability to translate the results of the bench into bedside application that have made him a pioneer in clinical ophthalmic research. Dr. Virender Singh Sangwan has made innovative contributions in ophthalmic research, particularly in having perfected the method of limbal stem cell culturing to produce transparent, stitchable epithelium and transplanting on needy human patients, and substantially restoring their vision. His work represents the largest successful human trial of stem cell technology anywhere. It is an excellent example of translational research from bench to bedside. He has been able to restore vision to over 800 patients, whose eyesight was lost due to burns and damage of the ocular outer surface. The journal NATURE covered his work briefly about a few years ago. The impact of his contributions to the benefit of mankind is clear and admirable. Additionally, he has devised a method to co-culture conjunctival and limbal stem cells and use the resultant tissue to restore vision in extreme cases of ocular outer surface damage. It is for these landmark contributions that Dr. Sangwan has been awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in Medical Sciences in the year 2006, and the National Technology Prize by the Department of Biotechnology in 2007. His stem cell work to restore sight to otherwise untreatable conditions has been appeared in October 2007 issue of FORTUNE, most reputed business magazine in the world. Last year India Today (popular news magazine) named him one of the top 20 scientists in India.
Dr Sangwan has been the Field Medical Director of the Flying Eye Hospital, called “ Orbis International”, which is a New York based “not-for-profit” organization fighting needless blindness worldwide. He has traveled extensively to lecture and present his work at conferences abroad, and, as part of Orbis International’s training program, has taught in countries ranging from Romania to Jamaica, and Peru to Myanmar.
He is the Founder Secretary of Asia Cornea Society, recipient of “achievement award” by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Section Editor of the British Journal of Ophthalmology, past Associate Editor of the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, and on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Ophthalmology. He has received the Col Rangachary Award in 2005 from the All India Ophthalmology Society for best scientific work, Dr Vengal Rao Award for the best scientific paper in the annual meeting of Andhra Pradesh Ophthalmic Society meeting in 2003, and the Dr P Siva Reddy Researcher of the Year Award in 2002 in AP.
He is a member of the International Steering Committee of Lux Biosciences, USA for the “LUCIDA” & “LUMINATE” drug development programs for the treatment of graft rejection and uveitis management respectively.
Dr. Sangwan is the Coordinator for Collaborative Research Projects between his institute and VisionCRC, a cooperative research center initiative of the Australian government. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Rochester, New York, USA.
Dr Sangwan has been involved in the eye banking movement in the country and has served as Secretary, Eye Bank Association of India, Country Director of the Ocular Surface Society, Current President & Founder Secretary of the Uveitis Society of India. He is married to Vandana, a dentist, and they have two children- the daughter Sonalika and the son Sahil.