Alumnus Kunal Parikh wins university award

Posted: October 11, 2021
Parikh, Brutus and Mother
Kunal Parikh ('12) and his mother on a previous campus visit

Alumnus and entrepreneur Kunal Parikh ('12 BS) excels in whatever he does. And one of the things he does best is to serve others.

Parikh's journey of service, which began as an undergraduate at The Ohio State University's William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been punctuated by encouragement and recognition. A former Ohio State Morrill Scholar and Denman Scholar, he received the Roche / ARCS Scholar Award at the National Academy of Sciences in 2014 and 2015 while attending graduate school at Johns Hopkins University. In 2020, Forbes magazine named him to its "2020 30 Under 30 - Healthcare" list of innovators working to make our world a better place.

In a virtual awards ceremony on October 7, 2021, Parikh was one of eight alumni recognized by The Ohio State University Alumni Association. His award, the William Oxley Thompson Alumni Award, recognizes young alumni who have demonstrated distinctive achievement in a career, civic involvement or both.

Dr. Parikh’s achievements have been remarkable. Just 31 and now a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he leads a team aimed at finding and commercializing biomedical solutions for unmet medical needs. He is founder of the Global Institute for Vision Equity and co-founder of the Social Innovation Lab in Baltimore. He founded his first company, Core Quantum Technologies, while working as an undergraduate in the lab of Professor Jessica Winter at Ohio State. Another company, Eyedea Medical, aims to improve access for corneal transplants. He has 10 patents issued or pending.

Parikh hasn't just chosen his line of work as a job. He feels a moral imperative to enable equity in health care and bring an entrepreneurial eye to the medical field, shepherding developments through manufacturing and regulatory processes to ultimately make things better for the patient.

"I'm convinced that technology + entrepreneurship + compassion is the formula for transformative, long-term impact," he said.

What motivates someone so young to be so service-minded? 

Kunal Parikh and his family
Kunal Parikh and his family

Parikh says that he realized the importance of health when he was young and often sick. He also gained compassion through experiencing and witnessing suffering during his family's visits to India.

"Today, I’m driven by a desire for all living beings to be happy, and a sense of gratitude that I can spend my time being of service to others," he said. 

His desire to improve access to healthcare and education and to mitigate poverty draws him into constant thought about how to allocate more resources and talented people to accelerate the development and deployment of solutions.

"Health equity implies that each individual — regardless of socioeconomic status, race, location, etc. — has the opportunity to be healthy. An elderly person in rural India is going to face a very different battle to have access to health care than my mother in Columbus. We need a deep understanding of the barriers to health care for people around the world and cohesive efforts to implement tailored solutions to overcome these barriers," he said.

During the Alumni Awards ceremony, Parikh expressed gratitude to Drs. David Tomasko and Jessica Winter for encouraging him to pursue research while an undergraduate at Ohio State. "I don't think I would be where I am today had I not followed that path," he said.

Parikh's mountain
As part of a spiritual practice related to Parikh's faith, Jainism, he once climbed up and down a mountain in India seven times over two days without food or water. "It has been my most difficult and worthwhile achievement, as I came to many fundamental realizations about how I want to live my life and what I’m prioritizing," he said.
Category: Alumni