Boston, MA — Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), an imaging technology that allows ophthalmologists to precisely diagnose and treat retina diseases, revolutionized eye care. The inventor of OCT, James Fujimoto S.M., Ph.D., Elihu Thomson Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, recently became the 2023 recipient of the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for his work.
The Lasker Award recognizes biomedical research scientists who have made a major impact on the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of human disease. It is not uncommon for Lasker Award recipients to eventually win a Nobel Prize.
Vinit Mahajan M.D., Ph.D., Stanford professor and vice chair of ophthalmology research, visited Fujimoto’s lab at MIT to discuss the latest developments in bioengineering and optical imaging.
Mahajan said, “The future of medicine depends on collaborations across disciplines to solve pressing medical needs. Bench research can’t reach patients without the expertise of physicians, bioengineers, big data scientists, and industry. Prof. Fujimoto put together a multi-disciplinary team to develop OCT and bring it to patients around the world. In my own lab, we are starting to see the molecular causes of eye disease using the same kind of collaborations, which I think will lead to new personalized therapies.”
In their meeting, Prof. Fujimoto shared insights into the future of OCT imaging. His lab is working on software development and wide-field imaging that will capture more area of the retina outside the macula and improve resolution. The two also discussed how to build faculty teams in bioengineering to address eye diseases.
Former graduate student and continuing collaborator, Eric Moult Ph.D., is developing and testing analytic software that can be used to study disease progression in age-related macular degeneration and other retinal diseases with the hope of predicting patient progression and understanding of clinical trial outcomes.
Mahajan also met with Prof. Fujimoto’s trainees to discuss career development strategies. The graduate students and postdoctoral fellows led a laboratory tour and shared their projects.
Mahajan said, “Sharing knowledge and ideas with leaders in ophthalmology across institutions strengthens Stanford Ophthalmology’s mission to develop groundbreaking technologies and therapies to cure hard to treat eye diseases.”
Fujimoto shares the Lasker Award with Eric Swanson S.M., research affiliate at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and mentor for the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, and David Huang Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology at Oregon Health and Science University and alumnus of the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology,