News Releases

Media contact:  Tiana Chantel Conner, 404-778-3711,

June 22, 2020

Saroosh Behshad, MD

Soroosh Behshad, MD, MPH, shares a smile and a thumbs up with a patient in Jordan.

Emory Eye Center Receives Humanitarian Award from Sidra Tree Foundation


(ATLANTA) Emory Eye Center providers Soroosh Behshad, MD, MPH, and Natalie C. Weil, MD, have received the Sidra Tree Foundation Project Award from the Sidra Tree Foundation. Dr. Behshad is a cataract and cornea surgeon in the section of Cornea, External Disease and Refractive Surgery and serves as chief of Ophthalmology Services at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. Dr. Weil, a pediatric and adult strabismus surgeon, is an assistant professor in the section of Pediatric Ophthalmology.

The Sidra Tree Foundation Project Award recognizes non-profit or academic institutions that provide ophthalmic care and skills-transfer. The award, which includes a $50,000 grant, will be used to further their efforts to provide eye care to Syrian refugees at the Za’taari refugee camp in Jordan.

Since 2017, they and their team have performed close to 4,000 eye exams and over 700 surgeries and procedures, with more than half of these patients being children.

“This grant will allow for increased surgical training of local ophthalmology partners to aid in a more sustainable program to provide subspecialty eye care to both refugees and local Jordanians in need,” Behshad says.

Natalie Weil, MD

Natalie Weil, MD, checks the eyes of a young patient in Jordan.  Drs. Weil and Behshad have traveled to Jordan multiple times since 2017.

“We are ecstatic to continue our work abroad and deliver care to this needy population,” Weil says. “This is another step forward to develop comprehensive ophthalmic services for refugees in Jordan with an emphasis on subspecialty eye care to children.

Their work is a part of Emory Eye Center’s Global Ophthalmology Emory (GO-Emory) program, which was established by the Center in 2011. The mission of the GO-Emory program is to prevent vision loss in Georgia and around the world through clinical service, research, and education. 

“The work of Drs. Behshad and Weil perfectly encapsulates the GO-Emory mission by providing sustainable system strengthening that will improve eye care delivery in Jordan for years to come,” says Jacquelyn O’Banion, MD, MSc, a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Emory Eye Center and director of GO-Emory.  “It focuses on the needs of the population and utilizes GO-Emory knowledge and expertise to provide quality eye care.”

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Support this urgent and ongoing work with your donations through Emory Online Giving or by contacting Karla Ruggiero, Emory Eye Center’s director of development.


The Emory Eye Center is the largest, most comprehensive eye care facility in Georgia, serving patients for more than 150 years. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other eye care professionals treat individuals of all ages who need care ranging from annual vision exams to treatment of complex vision disorders. Our physicians also help train the ophthalmologists of tomorrow through residency and fellowship programs that are recognized as some of the best in the country. Scientists at Emory Eye Center are researching the causes of and improved treatments for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, genetic eye diseases and more.



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