Dr Mona Kaleem, recently minted assistant profes- sor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, has been selected for a prestigious
research award from the American Glaucoma Society.
The $10,000 unrestricted grant is given to young clinician scientists to give them resources to facilitate their
early careers in academia, and encourage leadership in
Kaleem’s area of research is focused on understanding
issues that affect quality of life for patients with non-recoverable vision impairing conditions, teaching them
how to cope with their disabilities, and ultimately, how
they can improve their ability to perform activities of daily
living with simple modifications.
“There are currently 1.5 to 3.5 million Americans with
non-recoverable, partial vision loss, who are labeled as
low vision patients, or visually disabled,” Kaleem told
India Abroad. “Vision rehabilitation centers offer services
to these patients such as teaching skills and offering aids
or devices that can be used to help them function more
independently. There are several vision rehabilitation cen-
ters across the nation but only 10 percent of those who
would benefit from these services are benefiting.”
She said her goal is to bridge this gap “by increasing the
presence of vision rehabilitation services and improving
the quality of low vision services for patients with glauco-
Kaleem is to conduct the project under the mentorship
of Dr Sheila K West, professor of ophthalmology, Wilmer
Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
Kaleem is a full time glaucoma specialist at the University
of Maryland and sees patients at main campus,
McDonough Crossroads, Midtown, and the VA Hospital.
Born and raised in Ellicott City, Maryland, she earned a
bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College in
Northampton, Massachusetts, before matriculating at the
Howard University College of Medicine in Washington,
DC, where she was a Trustee Scholar.
She completed her medical training at Mercy Medical
Center, Howard University Hospital, and a glaucoma fellowship at the renowned Cole Eye Center at Cleveland
In 2008, while she was a final year medical student at
Howard University, Kaleem received the Malcolm X
Award worth $20,000 for her work to alleviate the
health-care needs of minorities. She was selected for her
leadership in health-care organizations targeted at
minorities and the uninsured, including the American
Medical Student Association, the Student Sight Savers,
the MCC Medical Clinics and a free community clinic run
by medical students at Howard.
As a member of AMSA, Kaleem lobbied on Capitol Hill
for universal health care, and was at the forefront of deliv-
ering health-care services for the needy and the indigent
among minority groups in DC.
She has always been passionate in medical research and
even while in medical school had contributed over 12
studies in the pathogenetics of neurodegenerative disorders, and in 2006 was awarded first prize at the Howard
University College of Medicine Research Competition for
her investigation of novel candidate genes in late onset
In 2009, during her final year of medical school, Kaleem
participated in a month-long free eye clinic camp for poor
patients in Mumbai, and in 2010 she participated in a
similar camp in Honduras.
She has undertaken medical missions in India with her
mother, Dr Tahoora Kawaja, an internist in Baltimore.
Her father is Kaleem Kawaja, a senior engineer at NASA
and a community activist in the DC area.
Mona Kaleem wins $10k grant
from American Glaucoma Society
Consulate General of India Dnyaneshwar Mulay and District Leader Uma Sengupta (Democrat,
Flushing) held a Sustainable Water
Summit in New York, December 15. The
summit was organized to raise awareness
about water pollution and water scarcity
on a global level as well as for the ‘Give Me
Water’ project, aimed to bring clean water
to villages in India.
‘The world’s biggest long-term challenge
is working to address the problem of a
global water scarcity,’ Sengupta said.
‘Access to fresh and clean readily-available
drinking water is a basic human right and
we need to make sure all communities are
provided with water in a healthy and sus-
Sengupta plans to leave for India in two
weeks to begin working on the project in
four villages of West Bengal’s South 24
Parganas district, and by February 14,
2015, this first leg of the initiative will be
In a study conducted in 20 villages, 30
percent of the children residing in this dis-
trict are inflicted by water-borne diseases.
In these villages, residents only have
access to water for two hours a day and
have to walk long distances to get water
for bathing, cooking and other usages.
“Unless you visit these villages, you really
cannot tell what their needs are and how
they’re suffering,” Sengupta told India
Abroad. “It really breaks your heart — how
they are surviving with no sanitation and
A volunteer for the project, Celia
Dosamentes of the Association for
International Conferences, explained that
climate change has effected India’s irriga-
tion and water systems, with drying up of
rivers and streams and non-functional
sewage systems in villages.
As urban areas develop, she said, the
resources in villages are being depleted.
The efforts aim to extract water in the
wells of the villages so that people can
have ccess to fresh and clean drinking
water all year around.
“We weren’t asking for funding specifi-
cally at the Sustainable Water Summit, but
we were asking for awareness that there is
a water scarcity problem there,”
Dosamantes said. “And if we can bring our
engineering efforts, our environmental
justice efforts, to India to support villages
where we’re from, we can do something.”
The goal of the December 15 event was
to connect with the Consulate and the
Indian- American community to spread
the word about the project. So far, individ-
ual donations are providing the main
funding, but Sengupta and her team will
be seeking grant money in later stages as
they hope to expand to other parts of
India. She hopes to continue to involve
leaders in the community as well as lead-
ers in environmental policy.
“We’re telling people, whatever you can
contribute — it doesn’t have to be money,
The event also included presentations
from Ram Raju, president, New York City
Health and Hospitals Corporation;
Councilman Paul Vallone (Democrat,
Bayside), and Miss Connecticut 2014
Jewel of India Roopa Modha who discussed how local, city and transnational
efforts can help form international policies
that promote environmental protection,
sustainability, health and wellness in
India, the United States, and countries
affected by water pollution and water
Mulay, Sengupta raise awareness about water scarcity
From left, Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Uma Sengupta, New York City Councilman Paul Vallone, Dr Ram Raju, and Jewel of India Miss Connecticut Roopa Modha.
Dr Mona Kaleem