DOE Artificial Retina Project

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Funding for this work ended in FY 2011.

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Research Team Highlights

Artificial Retina Team Wins Prestigious 2009 R&D 100 Award
Researchers involved with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Artificial Retina Project have won a prestigious 2009 R&D 100 Award. The award recognizes the collection of innovative technologies in engineering, microfabrication, material sciences, and microelectronics that has been integrated into a retinal prosthesis giving blind patients rudimentary vision.

The Doheny Eye Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California leads the multidisciplinary collaboration that includes contributions from five DOE national laboratories—Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories, four universities—California Institute of Technology, Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California, North Carolina State University, and University of California, Santa Cruz, and private industry—Second Sight® Medical Products, Inc., which is the group responsible for commercializing the product and conducting clinical trials. [more]

Auciello Awarded Honorary Professorship
Orlando Auciello has received a rare honoris causa professorship from the National University of Córdoba, Argentina, for his contributions to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Artificial Retina Project.

As one of the project’s principal investigators, Auciello is developing an ultrathin, biocompatible coating for the artificial retina. The thin-film coating is based on an R&D 100 Award-winning ultrananocrystalline diamond technology. His group also is exploring bioinert oxide films to serve as an alternative encapsulating coating and to enable high-energy storage capacitors. Embedding these capacitors into the artificial retina will bring it a step closer to full miniaturization.

Auciello is a senior scientist with Argonne National Laboratory’s Interfacial Materials Group and Argonne’s new Center for Nanoscale Materials.

Greenbaum, Humayun Receive Grant from National Academies
Elias Greenbaum, a principal investigator in the U.S. Department of Energy's Artificial Retina Project, and Mark Humayun, the lead investigator, were awarded a 2006 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAFKI) grant in April. The grant will provide seed funding for the development of a smart prosthetic device that delivers oxygen to ischemic tissue. Such a device could help people suffering from diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. This eye disease is a leading cause of blindness in adults and also may have application to other ischemic diseases. Each year, the competitive NAFKI seed grants provide funding for critical research on bold new ideas. Their objective is to stimulate interdisciplinary research that could yield significant benefits to science and society.

Greenbaum is a corporate fellow and leader of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Molecular Bioscience and Biotechnology Research Group. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the University of Tennessee's Genome Science and Technology program. Humayun is a professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine and of biomedical engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). He is also associate director of research at USC's Doheny Eye Institute. Together, they founded DOE's artificial retina program, which is aimed at restoring sight to people who are blind from age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

Lazzi Tapped To Head IEEE Journal
Gianluca Lazzi, a prinicipal investigator on the U.S. Department of Energy's Artificial Retina Project, has been selected to serve as editor-in-chief of the journal IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters for the term 2008-10. Lazzi is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University. His group performs electromagnetic and thermal modeling on the DOE retinal prosthesis to help determine how much energy can be used to stimulate the remaining nondiseased cells. They also identify induced electromagnetic fields and temperature increases generated when the device is operating.

Second Sight Wins NIH Award
Second Sight Medical Products Inc. (SSMP) has been awarded a renewal of its National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bioengineering Research Program (BRP) grant, administered by the National Eye Institute (NEI). The renewal is for five years and $13.3 million and extends the total grant period to 10 years and $26.5 million. The renewal grant will support basic science research in animal models, psychophysical testing in patients, and technology development and integration. Second Sight BRP partners include the Doheny Eye Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Alfred Mann Foundation.

During the first funding period, SSMP manufactured the Argus™ I devices that were implanted in six patients, and integrated the technologies developed by BRP partners and others into the Argus™ II device now in clinical trials. Robert Greenberg, SSMP’s president, CEO and lead investigator for the BRP says, “The generous support by NEI not only validates our capabilities and progress to date, but will enable the development of more clinically useful devices for our patients.”

BRP grants, which support both basic and applied research, enable technologies to move from the lab to the clinic. SSMP, which also receives substantial support from private investors including its founder, Al Mann, began clinical trials for its new 60-channel Argus™ II retinal prosthesis this summer. Greenberg adds, “We have been very pleased with the results from our 16-electrode Argus™ I device—the world’s only powered retinal prosthesis in daily use by patients today—and are optimistic that our second-generation implant will prove even more effective.”

New Book in Press
Artificial Sight, a book based on talks and posters presented at the Second DOE International Symposium on Artificial Sight (2005), is scheduled to be published in October by Springer. Editors of the book are M. S. Humayun, J. D. Weiland, G. Chader, and E. Greenbaum. The book will appear in the series Biological and Medical Physics–Biomedical Engineering (

Mark Humayun Named R&D 100 Magazine 2005 Innovator of the Year
Mark Humayun, lead investigator of the U.S. Department of Energy Arti-ficial Retina Project, received the prestigious Innovator of the Year award for 2005 from R&D Magazine. The award recognized him for creating an implantable artificial retina that promises to restore sight to blind patients. Each year, this international award recognizes one individual who has demonstrated excellence and creativity in the design, development, and introduction to the marketplace of one or more technologically signifi-cant products over the past 5 years.

Humayun, a surgeon who also holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering, began working on the retinal implant 17 years ago. His inspiration, however, goes back much further, to the mem-ory of his beloved grandmother whose decline was hastened by blindness in old age.

Humayun is a professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine and of biomedical engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). He is also associate director of research at the Doheny Eye Institute at USC.


The Artificial Retina Project was part of the
Biological and Environmental Research Program
of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science
Funding for this work ended in FY 2011.


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Last modified: Monday, July 10, 2017