The Power List 2018
Cornelius J. Pings Chair in Biomedical Sciences, Professor of Ophthalmology, Biomedical Engineering, and Integrative Anatomical Sciences; Director, USC Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics; Co-Director, USC Roski Eye Institute at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Mark has dedicated 30 years to the development of Argus II, a bioelectronic artificial retina to restore sight to the blind. His perseverance and ability to lead multi-disciplinary teams culminated in this artificial retina which was approved by the FDA; the first and only implant to have such approval. Argus II is also approved in Europe, Canada, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. The bioelectronic retina has enabled patients who are totally blind for decades to see large objects and letters and navigate. for his extraordinary contribution to medicine, engineering and humanity, Mark was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Obama. This medal symbolizes the highest recognition one can receive both at the presidential level and from one’s peers and is an accreditation and a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who have worked with him to develop this vision-restoring device. He is also the only ophthalmologist to be elected to the US National Academies of Medicine, Engineering and Inventors.
What inspires you?
“My grandmother, who lost her vision from diabetes, inspired me to pursue a career in ophthalmology and to become a pioneering innovator in sight restoration therapies. I plan to continue developing medical breakthroughs through the convergence of medicine and engineering, drawing inspiration from patients who suffer from the most debilitating diseases for whom there is no foreseeable cure.”
What have been your career highlights?
“The invention of Argus II has been one of my proudest accomplishments to date. It is taking science fiction and making it science fact. This is truly a translational success story and would not have been possible without the interdisciplinary collaborations of physicians, engineers, scientists, industrialists, the regulatory body as well as the patients who participated in the study that helped advance science.”
What are your goals for the future?
“Argus II is just the beginning. I hope to restore color vision and enhance reading vision so that patients can read small print and watch television. Through the support of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, I’ve also developed a novel minimally invasive stem cell-based treatment, CPCB-RPE1, for patients with an advanced form of dry AMD, which is in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial. The implanted scaffold of RPE are localized and can function to support and replenish dying photoreceptors of the retina, which would help restore and prevent vision loss in patients with AMD. The Humayun team’s latest invention, highlighted on the cover of Science Translational Medicine in 2018, is a reversible glue or ‘eye band-aid’ for ocular trauma. In addition, we have developed the world’s smallest pump for ophthalmic drug delivery.”