Karan R "Gregg" Aggarwala
Karan R. Aggarwala was born in a Christ-inspired hospital in New Delhi to a mother who studied Philosophy at Sophia College in Bombay (Mumbai), and a father trained in Engineering (HVAC) from Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Columbus, Ohio), who cherished meeting God's messengers in his work related activities. He was influenced by annual summer visits to Rockland County, New York since age eight, balanced with multi-dimensional schooling at Modern School Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, where he excelled in Physics and Music.
Karan trained in Ophthalmic Techniques (Medical Optometry) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he was introduced to ocular anatomy and physiology, geometric and visual optics, microbiology, biochemistry, pathology, and ocular diagnostics. He learned and practiced the art of clinical refraction, spectacle dispensing, contact lens fitting, and evaluation and management of disorders of eye position and motility. Faculty instructors emphasized detection and management of visual development disorders in children (e.g amblyopia or lazy eye), and management of tropical eye disorders such as trachoma. Short term assignments in corneal eye bank, ocular emergency and surgical clinics in ophthalmology were included.
Karan passed the Optometry Admission Test and moved to the US in September, 1989. Following a pre-requisite class in Statistics at Hunter College (CUNY), he enrolled in the Graduate Program in Vision Science at the State University of New York, College of Optometry. Karan worked under the supervision of Dr. Philip B. Kruger in the domain of chromatic stimuli for ocular accommodation (eye focusing), while passing significant academic credits common to the OD students. The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, provided a post-doctoral fellowship (F-32 National Research Service Award) based on equivalence with the Doctor of Optometry degree and a hypothesis driven research proposal. His PhD research investigated the poly-chromatic optical image at the retina in relation to the spatial and temporal properties of neural opponent mechanisms in the early visual system-- from the retina to the primary visual cortex. The experimental design, feasibility and scientific significance of the proposal was reviewed by the Behavioral Neuroscience Study Section of the NIH. Results from Dr. Kruger's laboratory at SUNY were published in peer-reviewed journal articles indexed on PubMed, in book chapters, and cited in Adler's Physiology of the Eye (Elsevier, 2011).
Karan was certified to conduct tests of eye pressure (tonometry) and analysis of the optic nerve head for the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS) at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, to test visual acuity using the ETDRS protocols, and to refract and dispense contact lenses by the National Contact Lens Examiners.
Following the MS and PhD degrees in Vision Science, Dr. Aggarwala studied nutrition, metabolism, public health, ergonomics, vision therapy, and behavior modification principles under the guidance of Dr. Benjamin C. Lane of the Nutritional Optometry Associates in New Jersey. He was admitted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry in December, 1999. From a growing interest in diabetes, he paid a visit to the USDA Human Nutrition Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and met Dr. Richard Anderson who extended the work of Dr. Walter Mertz on the role of trivalent chromium in potentiating insulin and to support glucose tolerance.
With concern for the gypsy moth challenge affecting eastern forests of North America, Dr. Aggarwala visited the US Forest Service in Pittsburgh. After presenting visual optics and metabolic eye research at various conferences across the continental USA, as well as in Amsterdam, Reykjavik, and Wroclaw, Dr. Aggarwala spent eight years (years 2001 to 2008) in public health optometry (screening school children and factory workers), teaching, clinical, community and corporate pharmaceutical consulting activities in India. During this period, much of his spare time was devoted to readings in social and planetary ecology (e.g. Eugene Odum, E. O. Wilson, Fritjof Capra, Lynn Margulis), evolutionary hypotheses (e.g. Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond), human motivations (e.g. Viktor Frankl, Rollo May, Thomas Cleary), biodiversity and limits to the Earth's "economic" resources (e.g. Lester Brown, Herman E. Daly, P. S. Ramakrishnan).
Dr. Karan developed and taught for 5 semesters (about 250 students), an undergraduate classroom course on Extending Personal Wellness Toward Social and Environmental Responsibility, for Ansal University, approved by North Dakota State University; including oral presentations and questions inspired by Stephen Covey's book: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Dr. Aggarwala served as continuing education consultant to optometrists at Dr. Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital, and assisted managerial objectives. He coordinated a visual screening event for over 800 Special Athletes in New Delhi, and in July 2003 was certified in Dublin, Ireland, as a Clinical Director for the Special Olympics Opening Eyes program. His articles on eye care, cognition, diabetes, obesity, aging, culture, marketing, disability, food and water security, and informed consent, were published in India by Consumer Voice.
Having relocated to New York in 2009, Dr. Karan remotely supervised clinical research projects for Master's students at Lotus College of Optometry (Mumbai). He was awarded a US and Indian utility patent for an interactive opto-mechanical, computerized subjective eye refraction device that was never commercialized. His book of poems, Ecological Meditations, was conceived over 3 decades (from age 12 till age 42), and is organized in 4 subject areas (Xlibris, 2011). He served as Ocular Nutrition Consultant to Invite Health in New York from June 2017 till October 2019. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society since April 2019. Some of his clients, collaborators and students address him as "Dr. Karan" or "Dr. Gregg."
Awards and Recognition
- Best Student Award 1989, Ophthalmic Research Association, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
- National Research Service Award (F-32 Post-Doctoral Fellowship), National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland: 1992 to 1995; USD 93,600; F32 EY06403
- Proficiency in Physics, Modern School Vasant Vihar, New Delhi: 1985
- Proficiency in Music, Modern School Vasant Vihar, New Delhi: 1985
- Graduate Curriculum Committee Service Award, State University of New York, Vision Science: 1995
- UKIERI Award (approx. $75,000) to collaborator NSHM College of Optometry: 2005