Recipients of AAO Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award announced

November 11, 2007

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award was presented to Alessandro Pezzola, MD, and Paul G. Steinkuller, MD, who were honored for their interest in charitable events, care for the poor, community service, and other humanitarian activities in providing services to the needy people around the world.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award was presented to Alessandro Pezzola, MD, and Paul G. Steinkuller, MD, who were honored for their interest in charitable events, care for the poor, community service, and other humanitarian activities in providing services to the needy people around the world.

"Dr. Pezzolla and Dr. Steinkuller have made tremendous contributions that have bettered the health of people who did not have access to quality eye care," said C.P. Wilkinson, MD, president of the academy. "We are proud to honor them for their dedication, leadership, and commitment to providing services to the poor and needy populations around the world."

While helping some of the poorest people in the world restore their vision, Dr. Pezzola sacrificed his career, private clinical practice, income, and his health. Through examinations, therapy, and thousands of surgical procedures, he was able to make a difference in these people's lives. Countries in which he has participated in projects include Zaire, the Ivory Coast, and Ghana. Currently, he is working in Indonesia Mali.

Dr. Pezzolla helped start Una Sola Vita Foundation, a non-profit association in Italy that provides health-care assistance to developing countries without political, social, or religious prejudice by executing medical-health programs, building new hospitals, creating medical-surgical prevention programs, and training medical and paramedic personnel.

For more than half of his career, Dr. Steinkuller has cared for the underserved and underprivileged in Africa. He has worked for a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project, the "Kenya Rural Blindness prevention Project" that was part of a population-based ocular disease survey of 12,000 people from 1981 to 1983. Since then he has worked on other USAID projects.

When he returned from Africa, Dr. Steinkuller re-joined the faculty at the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology to train residents and fellows in pediatric ophthalmology.