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Dr. Paul Bernstein Wins Utah Humanitarian Award

Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD, was honored with the Utah Ophthalmology Society's 2014 Lewis A. Petersen, MD, Humanitarian Award at the society's annual meeting on February 20, 2015. This award is given to a Utah ophthalmologist who has performed "exemplary service to the local, national, and/or international community." Bernstein was presented with this award in recognition of his unparalleled efforts to bring modern vitreoretinal care to underserved areas in the developing world.

Access to retinal care is extremely limited in many parts of the world, and Bernstein provides hands-on specialty training to help expand the availability and quality of care. For the past seven years, Bernstein has worked with the John A. Moran Eye Center's Outreach Division and the Himalayan Cataract Project to train aspiring retina specialists from Nepal, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Bhutan during three to six-month observational fellowships where they examine a wide variety of retina patients and learn vitreoretinal surgical techniques. Following these fellowships he travels to the trainees' hospitals where he helps them set up their equipment and provides further hands-on training in their home setting.

Bernstein has worked extensively with the Tilaganga Eye Hospital in Kathmandu, which has now become the leading center for retina surgery in the Himalayas. Bernstein also facilitated the KATH Hospital in Kumasi's acquisition of the first functioning retina laser in central Ghana. In December 2012, He traveled to the Kingdom of Bhutan to help Dr. Bhim Rai inaugurate the first vitreoretinal operating room in the country. Together, they performed the first anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) injection ever done in Bhutan on a high-ranking lama (Buddhist holy man), and they were featured on the country's national news when they conducted the first Bhutanese vitreoretinal surgery cases.

Bernstein holds the Mary H. Boesche Endowed Professorship in Ophthalmology at the University of Utah's John A. Moran Eye Center. Outside of his outreach work he divides his time between basic science retinal research and a clinical practice focused on medical and surgical treatment of disease of the retina and vitreous.