Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 1 - 2000

Harvey Fishman, Ophthalmology
David Bloom, Electrical Engineering
Stacey Bent, Chemical Engineering
Mark Blumenkranz, Ophthalmology

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of severe and irreversible blindness in the U.S. This proposed research represents a highly interdisciplinary effort between physicians, engineers, and scientists from schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Humanities and Sciences to develop new therapies for AMD and other blinding diseases of the retina.

The immediate goal of this research is to develop a neural interface that will connect a digital video camera to individual retinal cells in the eyes of patients with AMD, thus bypassing injured cells. This neural interface would represent a new paradigm in the field of electronic prosthetic retinas that are being developed worldwide. Such a prosthetic would improve the quality of life for the millions of elderly Americans who will develop AMD in the next 20 years. In addition to advancing the treatment of AMD, this method will have wide-reaching applications in spinal cord injuries and in the field of tissue engineering.

These bioengineering technologies will help bring basic science discoveries into clinical realities and bridge the gap from bench to bedside.