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Third Russ Prize lecture explores visionary imaging technology

Ysmeen Ebada, Anna Hartenbach | Sep 7, 2018
A well stylized banner featuring Christopher Hitzenberger

Third Russ Prize lecture explores visionary imaging technology

Ysmeen Ebada, Anna Hartenbach | Sep 7, 2018

The Russ College of Engineering and Technology will welcome esteemed physicist Christopher K. Hitzenberger, one of five recipients of the National Academy of Engineering’s 2017 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, for a Stocker Lecture on Thurs., Sept. 20, from 12-1 p.m. in Baker University Center 240. Refreshments will be served, and the talk can be viewed via live stream.

Hitzenberger, who is vice chair of the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at the Medical University of Vienna, will discuss “From Ocular Biometry to High-Speed, High-Resolution, and Multifunctional OCT - 30 Years of Coherence Ranging and Imaging in the Human Eye.” Hitzenberger and four others received the Russ Prize for developing optical coherence tomography (OCT).

OCT, one of the most widely used technologies for imaging in the human eye, is an essential tool for the treatment of blinding diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Millions of patients can now be diagnosed early, at treatable stages, before irreversible vision loss occurs.

Hitzenberger, who will discuss the evolution of OCT, developed the first system for measuring certain intraocular distances. The technology is used in eye clinics use worldwide for millions of cataract patients and was expanded to record OCT images, yielding one of the first vivo retinal OCT images of the human eye. It led to a shift in OCT technology and enabled rapid 3D imaging. “SD OCT” is now the industry standard, with tens of thousands of SD OCT retinal scanners used globally.

A fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics and the Optical Society, Hitzenberger joined the Institute of Medical Physics at the University of Vienna as an assistant professor in 1987. He later founded the biomedical optics research group with the new department head Adolf F. Fercher, who also received the 2017 Russ Prize.

Hitzenberger, who received the Hoechst Foundation Award for Advancement of Medical Research in Austria, is also editor-in-chief of the OSA journal, and has authored or coauthored 150 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, receiving nearly 20,000 citations. He earned his Ph.D. in physics and mathematics in 1983 and his habilitation in medical physics in 1993.

Modeled after the Nobel Prize, the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize is a $500,000 biennial award recognizing bioengineering achievements that significantly improve the human condition. It was created with a charitable gift to the National Academy of Engineering from Russ College alumnus Fritz Russ, BSEE ’42, HON ’85, and his wife Dolores.

Colleen Carow contributed to this story.