Epiretinal implant scientists awarded

June 18, 2008

Scientists who produced a visual prosthesis giving rudimentary sight to the blind are to receive the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2008 in recognition of their achievement.

Scientists who produced a visual prosthesis giving rudimentary sight to the blind are to receive the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2008 in recognition of their achievement. The Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize is awarded annually to acknowledge outstanding scientific achievements in solving application-related problems.

Dr Ingo Krisch, Dipl-Ing Michael Görtz and Dr Hoc Khiem Trieu of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS share the award, worth €20 000, for the wireless implantable chip, which has enabled patients blinded by retinal disease to perceive light spots and geometric patterns. The Epi-Ret epiretinal implant chip, the product of 12 years' labour, was unveiled in September 2007 following clinical trials on six patients.

The German Ministry of Education and Research funded the research to develop the chip. EPI-RET GmbH, a joint venture company spun off from the research, plans to continue trials and market a version of the implant in approximately three years' time.