Prestigious International Award Will Aid Future Research and Development of Eye Imaging Technology 

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 14, 2012 – A multicenter and multidisciplinary team that includes Joel S. Schuman, M.D., F.A.C.S., Eye & Ear Foundation Professor and chair, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of the UPMC Eye Center, today was awarded the António Champalimaud Vision Award from the Champalimaud Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, for its invention and validation of a revolutionary imaging system that reveals vivid details of eye anatomy. The team will share a 1 million Euro prize that will help advance future research and development of the technology

“The António Champalimaud Vision Award was designed to support those who are contributing to the alleviation of eye diseases and changing science and technology. This year’s award recognizes pioneering work that represents a historical breakthrough,” said Champalimaud Foundation President, Leonor Beleza. “Their efforts are transforming eye care and medicine.”

The technology, called optical coherence tomography (OCT), quickly and noninvasively produces a 3-D map of the eye, particularly the retina. It currently is the most powerful tool available for early detection of diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. The team invented the technology 20 years ago, and OCT now is a standard part of eye care for patients throughout the world.

One of the nation’s top authorities on glaucoma and diagnostic testing for eye disease, Dr. Schuman worked with engineers and ophthalmology researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Keck School of Medicine of USC for more than two decades to develop and fulfill OCT’s clinical potential.

“I’m delighted by the Champalimaud Foundation’s recognition of our efforts,” he said. “We continue to work on improving OCT and in the next decade, it could be as portable and easy to use as a standard ophthalmoscope.”

Dr. Schuman also holds secondary appointments at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Pitt/UPMC, the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition jointly run by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University, and in the Department of Bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, and he is interim director of the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.

A University of Rochester research group also will share in the Vision Award for their application of adaptive optics for cell-scale imaging of the eye

The Champalimaud Foundation supports individual researchers and research teams working at the cutting edge of biomedical science. One of its primary objectives is to make advances in the field of international vision research.

Dr. Schuman and the team discuss the development of OCT below: