On Dec. 14, the Sanford and Susan Greenberg Prize to End Blindness honored 13 scientists who have made extraordinary headway in the worldwide battle against blindness. Among them was James G. Fujimoto, the Elihu Thomson Professor of Electrical Engineering within MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).
Recipients of the Greenberg Prize are honored in two categories: the Outstanding Achievement Prize, highlighting strides toward treating and curing blindness, and the Visionary Prize, providing funding for scientists whose research exhibits significant potential in ending this debilitating condition. Fujimoto, a principal investigator in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), was awarded the Visionary Prize for his research, which focuses upon the areas of biomedical imaging, optical coherence tomography, and advanced laser technologies and applications.
As noted recently in National Geographic, the Greenberg Prize originates in the personal experience of Sanford Greenberg, who lost his vision as a young man and subsequently vowed to spend the rest of his life working to ensure that no one else would have to share the devastation of his experience. Inspired by milestone scientific efforts such as the moon landing and the development of the polio vaccine, Greenberg has set an ambitious goal of total worldwide eradication of blindness, regardless of underlying cause. To that end, he and the other members of the governing prize committee have set out to identify and connect scientists worldwide who are making critical headway in the battle against the condition.
The award ceremony — which can be viewed online — featured celebrity appearances, musical performances, the unveiling of a sculpture created by Frank Stella in honor of the prize, and a tribute to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a longtime supporter of Greenberg’s philanthropic work.
A principal investigator in RLE and adjunct professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine, James Fujimoto earned his SB, SM, and PhD in EECS from MIT in 1979, 1981, and 1984 respectively. He joined the MIT faculty in 1985, and has been conducting research ever since.