By Leslie Ridgeway
Mark Humayun, MD, PhD, internationally known for his work on the Argus II artificial retina implant intended to restore sight to the blind, has been named the inaugural director of the USC Eye Institute and interim chair of the USC Department of Ophthalmology.
In his new role, Humayun will take the reins in overseeing advanced surgical techniques and comprehensive care for patients. He will also continue to lead and guide cutting edge transformative research.
“The USC Eye Institute and the USC Department of Ophthalmology together offer a top-ranked clinical practice and world-class research with the potential to cure prevalent and challenging diseases of the eye,” said Humayun. “The groundbreaking work at the USC Eye Institute will lead to transformative new solutions for preserving and restoring sight and the USC Department of Ophthalmology will be the conduit that provides these treatments safely and effectively to patients with vision problems.”
Humayun is professor of ophthalmology, biomedical engineering and cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. He is a University Professor (the highest recognition for a professor at USC) and also is the inaugural Cornelius J. Pings Chair in Biomedical Sciences. He is a member of both the USA National Academies Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering.
In a joint statement, Elizabeth Garrett, JD, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Carmen Puliafito, MD, MBA, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Tom Jackiewicz, MPH, senior vice president and CEO for USC Health, expressed their support for Humayun.
“We look forward to his continued commitment to the highest levels of basic and translational research through his leadership of the USC Eye Institute,” the statement said, adding that they “are confident that USC’s tradition of strong leadership will be maintained.”
Working closely with physicians and researchers to enable them to do their best in clinical practice as well as translational and basic vision research is a priority for Humayun. “We plan to achieve our new goals through continued emphasis on clinical, research and educational missions,” he said.
Humayun is internationally recognized for his work on the treatment of the most debilitating and challenging eye diseases through advanced engineering. This includes the development of therapies for retinal degenerations such as retinitis pigmentosa; macular degenerations such as age-related macular degeneration; retinovascular diseases such as vein occlusions; diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachments.
Humayun was the principal member of a team that developed the Argus II implant, which has been shown to restore sight to some people blinded by retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The Argus II (manufactured and sold by Second Sight Medical Products) was approved for use in the United States by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February 2013.