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Programs in Seed Grants

Building and validating a pipeline from screening to treatment for diabetic retinopathy in Kumasi, Ghana

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Despite the growing prevalence of diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa, most of the region lacks access to screening and treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Last year, as 2023 Global Health Seed Grant Awardees, Dr. Arthur Brant, MD, and Dr. Akwasi Ahmed, MD, MS, set out to tackle this issue in the under-resourced region of Kumasi, Ghana by founding Africa Eye Imaging Center. Already, they’re screening 50 patients each day and plan to increase to 200 by the end of 2025. Now, they plan to use this new round of seed grant funding to ensure that screened patients receive the follow-up care and treatment needed to prevent loss of eyesight or blindness.

“We hope to build and validate a model that ensures that patients screened for diabetic retinopathy can make it all the way through the funnel to treatment,” said Dr. Brant. He noted that many successful screening efforts are taking place around the world, but there’s still a lack of research to ensure that patients receive the necessary treatments once screened. This project seeks to address that healthcare gap.

The team plans to build a higher-fidelity diagnostic and treatment center to meet the growing demand for treatment as their screening efforts continue to expand. Because first-line diabetic retinopathy screening often leaves a disease undifferentiated, additional investigation is needed before the final treatment plan is decided. The proposed model relies on telemedicine for this second-line investigation, enabling high-quality, affordable, and timely treatment to patients. Their model will not only serve Ghana but can also be adapted for use in other low-resource areas grappling with a significant prevalence of diabetic blindness and limited existing ophthalmic infrastructure. 

“We believe that using multi-modal imaging via telemedicine is novel and paves a path to sustainability in low and middle income countries with limited ophthalmic infrastructure,” said Dr. Brant.

Principal Investigators:

Arthur Brant, MD, Resident in Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Byers Eye Institute

Prithvi Mruthyunjaya, MD, MHS, Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Byers Eye Institute

Geoffrey Tabin, MD, Fairweather Foundation Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Byers Eye Institute

Research Team:

Akwasi Ahmed, MD, MBA, Professor, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital; Joelle Brimpong, MD/MBA Student, Stanford University School of Medicine


Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, Stanford Department of Ophthalmology