Mark S. Humayun

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Medicine

For the invention, development, and application of bioelectronics in medicine, including a retinal prosthesis for restoring vision to the blind, thereby significantly improving patients’ quality of life.

For the invention, development, and application of bioelectronics in medicine, including a retinal prosthesis for restoring vision to the blind, thereby significantly improving patients’ quality of life.

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Birth
January 1, 1963
Age Awarded
50
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Artificial Retina
Awarded by
Barack Obama
Education
Georgetown University
Duke University Medical School
University of North Carolina
Areas of Impact
Communication & Information
Health & Medicine
Affiliations
University of Southern California
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When Mark Humayun’s grandmother lost her eyesight as the result of diabetes, he made it his life’s goal to study blindness. Today, he’s not only researching visual impairments; he’s reversing them.

Humayun, a renowned ophthalmologist who holds joint appointments in medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California, developed the first, FDA-approved retinal implant to help patients with retinitis pigmentosa—an inherited retinal degenerative disease that affects both eyes—restore their sight.

The system, called Argus II, uses a camera mounted on special glasses to send signals to an electronic receiver with 60 electrodes implanted inside the eye. The receiver then sends signals to the retina that travel through the optic nerve to the brain, where they can be interpreted as a visual picture.

To date, dozens of patients have received the implants through clinical trials and reported being able to make out large-print letters and Fourth of July fireworks, among other images, after years of darkness.

By Sydni Dunn

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