• 'Prakash' in Sanskrit
    means LIGHT
    Our goal is to bring light into the lives of curably blind children and, in so doing, illuminate some of the most fundamental questions about how the brain learns to see.
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    Unruly
    Art
    Project Prakash is grateful to Princeton University for hosting an Unruly Art Exhibit. We had a great attendance and were able to spread the word about the important work of providing visual treatment for children with curable blindness.
 

Mission

Mission


The Humanitarian Mission

India is home to the world’s largest population of blind children, with estimates ranging from approximately 200,000 to 700,000. However, much of this blindness can be avoided or treated! Project Prakash conducts screening camps in villages across north-central India to identify children with treatable eye problems, and also provides sight treatment free of cost. Read More


Neuroscience

The scientific objective of Project Prakash is to understand the prospects and process of visual recovery after a lifetime of blindness. From a basic science perspective, these studies provide unique windows into the brain’s fundamental mechanisms of learning and plasticity. The scientific team follows-up with patients to assess how their vision develops after treatment. Read More

Read our publications.

Impact

42,000 children
screened
467 surgically
treated
1,400 non-surgically treated

* Statistics as of 2014



Junaid

Junaid

One of the first patients treated through Project Prakash, Junaid has shown incredible improvements in his visual abilities. Eight years after his treatment, Junaid has shown a strong motivation to receive education, and has now passed his 8th standard exam with help of volunteer tutors.

Farana Busra

Farana and Busra

Farana and Busra are two sisters who were found through an outreach camp organized by Project Prakash. Profoundly blind and clinging to their father before treatment, they now are much more confident, can walk around the hospital on their own, and are not afraid to share their beautiful smiles. Their father now talks of their future marriage prospects - something quite unthinkable a few years ago.

Reshma

Reshma

Look at that amazing smile! Reshma comes from a large family living in difficult circumstances. She has 6 siblings, her mother is blind, and her father passed away when she was 9 years old. Yet, since her treatment, Reshma hopes to get an education and to get a job to help support her family.


Unruly Art

A transformation occurs in the life of the Prakash children, and we are helping them explore avenues of creative expression through "Unruly Art."

Unruly Art

Through our experience with Project Prakash, we have come to realize that children with disabilities are often doubly disadvantaged. Not only do they have to cope with the challenges that the disability imposes, but they also have to deal with subtle societal prejudices. Art is an important case in point. The idea that children with disabilities are uninterested in, or incapable of, creating art has led to their near complete exclusion from participating in art. Art has profound benefits for its producers: better social integration, improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and enhanced self-esteem. The desire to actively include children across all levels of the skill spectrum in art is the motivation behind UnrulyArt.

Read More

Road Ahead

Prakash Center

Project Prakash Center

To maximize the impact of Project Prakash on children’s lives and science, an important goal in the coming years is to create the Prakash Center for Children, a campus that will integrate the core missions of the project in one location. The center will provide:

  1. Treatment to curably blind children,
  2. Rehabilitation and education to treated children, and
  3. Facilities for scientific research.
Read More

Team

  • Founder

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    Pawan Sinha, Ph.D.
    Founder of Project Prakash

    Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at M.I.T. Prof. Sinha is a recipient of the PECASE – the highest US Government award for young scientists, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Neuroscience, the John Merck Scholars Award for research on developmental disorders, the Jeptha and Emily Wade Award for creative research, and the Troland Award from the National Academies. He has published extensively in several of the world’s top-ranked scientific journals including Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His work has been profiled in several media channels including the New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC News, National Public Radio and TIME magazine.

    Email: psinha@projectprakash.org


  • Executive Director

    Sheila Lalwani

    Sheila Lalwani
    Executive Director

    Sheila B. Lalwani serves as the Executive Director for Project Prakash. In her role, she coordinates operations between the U.S. and India. She has extensive experience in India, working for the U.S. State Department, Human Rights Law Network and India Literacy Project. Fluent in Hindi, she graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, she is a former Fulbright Scholar.

    Email: sheila.lalwani@projectprakash.org


  • Core Science Team

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    Tapan Gandhi, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral researcher at M.I.T. in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. Dr. Gandhi is an INSPIRE faculty member in the Engineering and Technology category of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India. He also an Assistant Professor at the Defense Institute of Allied Sciences, Minister of Defense, India. His research expertise spans computational neuroscience, brain imaging (EEG, MEG, fMRI), biomedical instrumentation, biomedical signal and image processing, machine learning, and rehabilitation engineering.


    Amy

    Amy Kalia, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral researcher at M.I.T. in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Biological Psychology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Kalia has since then continued to study multisensory processing with low vision. She has received the Fight for Sight and National Institute of Health’s NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowships.


  • Medical Consultants

    Suma Ganesh

    Dr. Suma Ganesh

    Head of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi. She came first in MS (Ophthalmology) at Bombay University and received numerous awards during her training. Dr. Suma studied Pediatric Ophthalmology at the Manhattan Eye and ENT Hospital, New York, USA. She has received the prestigious Dr. S. D. Athawale award for the best paper in squint at the All India Ophthalmological Conference.


    Umang Mathur

    Dr. Umang Mathur

    Associate Director and head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi. Dr. Umang is a Cornea and Phaco cataract surgeon. He has received several decorations in recognition of his surgical talents, and completed a fellowship in Cornea and Anterior Segment surgery at the prestigious L.V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad in 1998. His training abroad includes time at the Royal Hull Infirmary, UK, and at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, USA.


  • Outreach Personnel

    Shantanu Das Gupta

    Shantanu Das Gupta

    DGM of Marketing and Projects at Shroff Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi. Mr. Das Gupta assists in coordinating and managing outreach efforts and personnel, including organization of eye camps in villages and schools, and coordinating patient visits to the hospital. He also has a role in strategic planning to increase the footprint, community outreach, marketing and project development with corporate organizations and international NGOs.


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    Ms. Shakeela Bi

    Outreach coordinator and counselor at Shroff Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi. Ms. Bi serves as the personal contact person for the Project Prakash patients and their families. She coordinates their travel to the hospital, and keeps in touch with the families once they return to their homes.


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    Mr. Harvendra Dhillon

    Project coordinator at Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi. Mr. Dhillon coordinates outreach camps and the logistics of patient trips to the hospital. He is the on-the-ground person who travels to villages to meet with patients and their families, and attends eye camps along with optometrists from the hospital.


  • Collaborators

    Peter Bex>

    Dr. Peter Bex

    Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Bex’s research explores the early detection, diagnosis and monitoring of visual impairment using behavioral and imaging techniques. He received his Ph.D. in Vision Science from Cardiff University in the U.K., which was followed by a postdoctoral research position at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Rochester in New York. Dr. Bex has also held faculty positions at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

    Susan Gabrieli>

    Dr. Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli

    Research Scientist in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at M.I.T. Dr. Whitfield-Gabrieli is interested in how analyses of brain imaging data can shed light on the neural mechanisms subserving normal cognition and how disturbances of those mechanisms impair cognition in neurological and psychiatric diseases.


    Margaret Kjelgaard

    Dr. Margaret Kjelgaard

    Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Kjelgaard has long standing interests in research, clinical work and teaching in the area of childhood developmental disabilities. Her research has mainly focused on autism, basic psycholinguistics, and childhood language disorders, and has more recently evolved to include sensory processes and how they might relate to language processing difficulties. She received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Northeastern University and has a Clinical Certification in Communication Disorders. Dr. Kjelgaard has collaborated with the Sinha lab at M.I.T. for the past few years.


    Harsh Mahajan

    Dr. Harsh Mahajan

    Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, Delhi. Dr. Harsh Mahajan graduated from Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi in 1982, after which he went on to do his Post-Graduation in Radiodiagnosis from PGIMER, Chandigarh. He was then awarded a Rotary Foundation Fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Hospital & Research Institute in Houston, Texas where he developed a keen interest in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. In 1992, Dr. Mahajan set-up one of India’s first privately run MRIs. Subsequently in the year 1998 he was appointed as the Honorary Radiologist to the President of India and he continues to hold that post till date. He was awarded one of the highest civilian national honours of “Padma Shri” in the 2002 for his contribution to the field of radiology and imaging. He is currently the Chief Radiologist at Mahajan Imaging Pvt. Ltd., the company he founded, which has seven radiology and nuclear medicine centres in and around New Delhi.


    Lotfi Merabet

    Dr. Lotfi Merabet

    Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Merabet is also a member of the research faculty in the Vision Rehabilitation Service at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. His research uses behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to study adaptations to vision loss and blindness. Dr. Merabet received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Montreal, his O.D. a the New England College of Optometry, and also holds masters degrees in Clinical Investigation and Public Health. He continues to lecture and serve as an advisor within the local blind community and also serves on the Board of Directors at the Carroll Center for the Blind and National Braille Press. Dr. Merabet's main research interests include the development of assistive technology and much of this work is done in local collaboration with the Carroll Center and Perkins School for the Blind as well as internationally with the University of Chile and Milan.


    Fliip Phillips

    Dr. Flip Phillips

    Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Flip received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Ohio State University and has expertise in visual and haptic perception, which he studies using behavioral and computational modeling techniques. He also uses 3D printing technology in his lab to create novel haptic objects for experiment purposes. He also was the Director of the Neuroscience Program at Skidmore for four years. Before joining Skidmore College, Flip worked as an Animation Scientist for Pixar Animation Studios.



    Maria Stenzel

    Maria Stenzel

    Maria Stenzel is a freelance photojournalist who documents the experiences of the Prakash children during their time at the hospital in Delhi, as well as in their villages. Maria has covered the environment, science, and indigenous cultures for National Geographic Magazine for twenty years. Her photographs have received awards from World Press Photo, The National Magazine Award, The National Press Photographers Association, and Communication Arts. She was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, a Fellow at the Film Studies Center at Harvard University, and has taught in the Journalism program at Emerson College.


  • U.S. Operations Team

    Annie Cardinaux

    Annie Cardinaux
    Project Support

    Annie Cardinaux supports the day-to-day operations of Project Prakash in the US, including coordination of administrative systems, communications, fundraising, and special events. Annie joins Project Prakash with a background in nonprofit administration and special needs education, and completed her B.S. at Tufts University. In her primary role as Technical Associate in Professor Sinha’s laboratory at MIT, she coordinates autism research projects.

  • Board of Directors

    Laura Flug

    Laura Flug

    Ms. Laura Flug is a director of the American Technion Society, an organization in New York that provides financial and other support for the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. She also sits on the board of the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack, New York.


    Richard Held

    Richard M. Held, Ph.D.

    Emeritus professor at MIT. Research expertise in visual and motor development. Member of the National Academy of Sciences. Past chairman of the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Director of the New England College of Optometry.


    Pam Lipson

    Pamela R. Lipson, Ph.D.

    Founder of Imagen Inc. Research expertise in vision and artificial intelligence. Honors include the George Sprowls Award for Exceptional Research at MIT, the TR100, the MIT 50K Entrepreneurship Prize and the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Award.


    Amy Chu

    Amy Chu, M.B.A.

    Expertise in non-profit management in the life-sciences arena. Masters degree from MIT in architecture and MBA from Harvard.


Supporters

  • James S. McDonnell Foundation
  • Nick Simons Foundation
  • National Eye Institute (NIH)
  • John Merck Foundation
  • Rotary International
  • Envision at Rutgers University
    (recipients of the Be Vital Challenge Award from Johnson and Johnson Services, Inc.)

Get Involved

Volunteering

Project Prakash is always looking for bright and energetic people who want to have lasting impact on the life of a child. If you are passionate, persistent and ready to change the world, we want to hear from you.

We are particularly interested in volunteers with experience in grant writing, event planning and communications.

Contact us at info@projectprakash.org


Stay in Touch

Keep in touch with our latest activities, initiatives and updates via social media:



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