2013 Russ Prize winner Dr. Rangaswamy

Rangaswamy Srinivasan and two colleagues were honored with the 2013 Russ Prize for their discovery and development of laser ablative photodecomposition, the technology behind LASIK and PRK vision correction surgeries.

Photographer: Bill Truslow

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LASIK surgery pioneer and Russ Prize recipient to lecture on breakthrough discovery

Rangaswamy Srinivasan, a recipient of the 2013 Russ Prize, will discuss his discovery of a novel use for the pulsed ultraviolet excimer laser, the technology behind LASIK and PRK vision correction surgeries, on Tues., Oct. 29, at 3:30 p.m. in Ohio University's Baker University Center Ballroom.

Presented by the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology's Stocker Lecture Series, Srinivasan will recount how he and his team invented the phenomenon of laser ablative photodecomposition and will detail the bio-engineering discovery that led to groundbreaking surgical procedures, improving life for more than 25 million people. The lecture can also be viewed on the Web.

Srinivasan developed the excimer laser with colleagues and Russ Prize co-recipients James J. Wynne and the late Samuel E. Blum while working at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center. Srinivasan first made his discovery in 1981, when he irradiated cartilage from his leftover Thanksgiving turkey with the pulsed ultraviolet laser and found that it left the surrounding tissue undamaged. Srinivasan, Blum and Wynne tested the laser under controlled conditions and found that lasers at longer wavelengths left surrounding tissue burned and damaged, while the shorter wavelength laser made incisions with no thermal damage.

Later studies on human tissue yielded similar results. In 1983, Srinivasan and two other researchers published a seminal paper in the American Journal of Ophthalmology showing the potential for laser eye surgery.

The National Academy of Engineering and Ohio University honored Srinivasan, Wynne and Blum with the 2013 Russ Prize, a $500,000 award created by the Russ College that honors a bioengineering achievement in widespread use that improves the human condition.