Champalimaud Foundation Awards €1M to Three Brazilian Institutions

2019 Champalimaud Foundation Award Recipients
Left to right: Dr. Carlos Arieta, representing UNICAMP; Dr. Marcelo Ventura, representing the Altino Ventura Foundation; Dr. Rubens Belfort Jr., representing Instituto da Visão IPEPO; Prof. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal; Dr. Leonor Beleza, president of the Champalimaud Foundation; and Dr. Alfred Sommer, chair of the selection jury.

The 2019 António Champalimaud Vision Award recognizes the Instituto da Visão – IPEPO, the Altino Ventura Foundation and the UNICAMP Ophthalmology Service, three longstanding organizations that have worked to prevent blindness and visual impairment, by providing eye services to underserved populations, in Brazil.

The Instituto da Visão-IPEPO, making use of telemedicine and other new technologies, has provided cataract surgical services, free glasses, and tertiary eye care covering a population of over 2 million people in Metropolitan São Paulo, the Amazon and beyond.

The Altino Ventura Foundation, based in Pernambuco in Northeast Brazil, one of the poorest regions of South America, has worked throughout the region to eliminate blindness and rehabilitate the visually impaired.

The UNICAMP Ophthalmology Service, part of one of Brazil’s top university hospitals, initiated the first cataract-free-zone project in Latin America, a truly public health-based approach to the treatment and prevention of blindness.
Overcoming barriers of poverty and geography, these three outstanding organizations have helped address the eye care needs of disadvantaged populations in Brazil for over 30 years.


This year’s awardees join the distinguished group of laureates of the António Champalimaud Vision Award, the first of the Champalimaud Foundation’s programs.

The award has a dual nature in how it singles out Vision as a special area, it alternates its yearly focus between recognizing major scientific breakthroughs in the understanding or preservation of vision and outstanding contributions on the ground to the alleviation of vision impairment and blindness, primarily in developing regions:

-In even years, the scientific award has recognized discoveries ranging from the mechanisms of transduction in the retina (‘08), visual processing and perception in the brain (‘10), breakthrough clinical imaging (‘12), to collective successful efforts to treat the fastest growing eye diseases (‘14), the elucidation of the development pathways that connect the eyes to the brain (‘16), and the first successful gene therapy to cure an inherited human disease (’18).

-In odd years, recognizing eye care in developing regions, humanitarian laureates have been from an outstanding sustainable comprehensive eye care system (‘07), an international organisation of blindness prevention (‘09), a transcontinental effort to eliminate a blinding tropical disease (‘11), multiple organisations working to eliminate blindness in a country (‘13), a diverse group of organisations building community-based capacity across a continent (‘15) and global pioneers in the fight against blindness setting model prevention, alleviation and rehabilitation programs worldwide (’17).

The award recognizes groups rather than single individuals, emphasizing the collective nature of both laboratory research and eye care work of organisations on the ground.
With a sum of 1 million Euro, the Champalimaud is one of the largest awards in the world and the largest in the fields of Vision and Ophthalmology. The funds may be spent in any way that furthers the achievements of the laureates, allowing for significant open-ended creative endeavors that otherwise might not find backing in more conventional grant-like funding.

The international jury panel has a composition of extraordinary distinction and diversity, among them, Nobel laureates pursuing basic science, exceptionally engaged Clinician- Scientists and public figures in international development involved in meeting the needs of the developing world. The jury has recognized a wide range of award laureates marking the diversity of the field of Vision itself.

More Information on the Vision Award and Former Laureates in Portuguese and English at: