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The Catalyst

Banov Award winner nominated for volunteer work

By Caroline Assey
Public Relations

Oday Alsarraf, M.D., a graduate of the MUSC College of Medicine, was selected as the recipient of the Charles H. Banov, M.D., Humanitarian Award for his genuine passion for service and volunteering of his time to serve the unmet needs of communities, both locally and in other countries.

Alsarraf was inspired to go into medicine by his father, who is an ophthalmologist.

“Ophthalmology is one of the few specialties that combines depth of medicine and surgery under one field. All surgeries that you perform have an immediate reward and change the quality of life for your patient,” Alsarraf said.

Dr. Oday Alsarraf received the Dr. Charles H. Banov Humanitarian Award, April 17. Presenting the award to Alsarraf was Nancy Banov, wife of Charles. The award recognizes an MUSC student who has made a significant contribution locally or abroad. The recipient also receives $1,000.
Dr. Oday Alsarraf received the Dr. Charles H. Banov Humanitarian Award, April 17. Presenting the award to Alsarraf was Nancy Banov, wife of Charles. The award recognizes an MUSC student who has made a significant contribution locally or abroad. The recipient also receives $1,000.

After medical school, Alsarraf traveled to Oman, a country in southwest Asia, to help eradicate trachoma, a bacterial infection in the eye, in underprivileged rural areas. It was this trip that made him realize the importance of volunteerism in health care. He also has an interest in glaucoma due to a personal experience with it.

During a routine eye exam, Alsarraf discovered he had an asymmetric optic nerve, which made him a glaucoma suspect. Although he is glaucoma-free, this event sparked his interest to volunteer his time increasing glaucoma awareness and serving the less fortunate with free screenings, while simultaneously focusing his research on this disease.

Alsarraf is currently in the graduate school program obtaining a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. His research focuses on improving neuro-protective strategies in glaucoma, under the mentorship of Craig E. Crosson, Ph.D., professor and senior associate dean of research. Alsarraf presented some of his research findings at the 2012 Student Research Day and was awarded first place for best oral presentation.

He has dedicated his time to many different causes including: Teach for America, Crisis Ministries, Ethics Consults Service, Graduate Student Association, Fight for Sight, Medical Student Ophthalmology Society, various MUSC committees, and he serves as the South Carolina representative for World Glaucoma Week. Alsarraf also holds the 2012 Mr. MUSC title, was nominated for the Earl B. Higgins Student Leadership in Diversity award in March 2013, and is a Presidential Scholar.

J. Matthew Rhett, Ph.D., nominated Alsarraf for the Banov Award after nominating him last year for the MUSC 2012 Student Leadership Society award, which he won.

“The active and passionate role he has taken in volunteering his time has benefitted everyone in our community from patients and the underprivileged to fellow students, researchers and clinicians. He is truly an outstanding individual in all respects, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to surpass all expectations,” Rhett said. “I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this award than Oday.” Zsolt Ablonczy, Ph.D., also nominated Alsarraf for the award.

Although Alsarraf was born in England, he considers himself a Charleston native. He has been a part of the MUSC community since graduating from the College of Charleston in 2002, when he began working at the Storm Eye Institute as an ophthalmic research technician. 

After receiving the Banov Humanitarian Award, Alsarraf said, “I am grateful first and foremost to my family and friends for their love, my mentor for his continuous support, and all my lab mates and colleagues for their encouragement. I think everyone should give back to the community, especially the underprivileged, so to be recognized for that is just a bonus.”

May 1, 2013
 
 
 

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