Budenz to receive Outstanding Humanitarian Award

Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH, Chairman of the UNC Department of Ophthalmology, was recently announced as the recipient of an outstanding humanitarian award from one of the field’s most prestigious professional organizations.

Budenz to receive Outstanding Humanitarian Award click to enlarge Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH
Budenz to receive Outstanding Humanitarian Award click to enlarge Dr. Budenz examines a patient in Ghana.

Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH, chair of the UNC Department of Ophthalmology, was recently announced as the recipient of an outstanding humanitarian award from one of the field’s most prestigious professional organizations.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) named Budenz the recipient of its 2014 Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award, to be presented on Oct. 19 during the opening ceremony of the 2014 AAO Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL.  The AAO is the largest national association of eye physicians and surgeons with over 25,000 US and 7,000 international members.

Since 1995, Budenz has devoted his professional skills to humanitarian work in Ghana, West Africa. He has traveled to Ghana several times each year since then, spending anywhere from one to three weeks operating on patients pro bono and teaching local ophthalmologists during each trip.

In 2009, Budenz established a 501(c) non-profit called Christian Eye Ministry, which supports two clinics in Ghana. He is also establishing a Glaucoma Center of Excellence in Ghana, which trains local ophthalmologists in this surgical subspecialty.

Along with his clinical work in Ghana, Budenz has also designed and published numerous studies on the epidemiology and clinical treatment of eye disease there. Among these is what has been called the first “properly designed” study of the epidemiology of glaucoma prevalence in West Africa. He is currently running two large studies, one designed to determine the incidence and outcomes of glaucoma in urban West Africa and the other designed to determine the optimal surgical procedure for glaucoma in this people group.

I believe it is far more effective to choose an underserved area of the world to develop infrastructure, rather than to do one-week interventions or to go from place to place, which I call medical tourism. Sustainability and training are our goals. - Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH

Budenz obtained his MD from Harvard Medical School and his Masters of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health.  In 2011, he relocated to Chapel Hill in order to fulfill the role of chairman of the ophthalmology department here at UNC. He spent the first two decades of his career at the University of Miami.

When he is not traveling, Dr. Budenz sees patients at the UNC Kittner Eye Center and also at another UNC satellite clinic in Roxboro. For more on Dr. Budenz and the 2014 AAO Outstanding Humanitarian Service award, click here and here.

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