Celebrating academic invention

December 13, 2023


José-Alain Sahel, Distinguished Professor and Eye and Ear Foundation Professor and Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is one of 162 academic inventors chosen as a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow, the NAI said in a news release on Dec. 12.

Sahel is a leader in vision restoration techniques. He has developed several interventions—including stem cell implantation, gene therapy, innovative pharmacologic approaches and the artificial retina—for retinitis pigmentosa, other retinal dystrophies, age-related macular degeneration and other vision impairments that currently are untreatable.

He has pioneered optogenetic vision restoration, a technique in which cells in the retina are genetically modified to express light-sensitive proteins to help patients who are blind or visually impaired.

He is also a coinventor on more than 40 patents, several of which have led to start-up companies.

“This prestigious fellowship underscores the caliber of Dr. Sahel’s work, as well as the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences’ commitment to fostering innovation,” said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine.

“This year’s class of NAI Fellows showcases the caliber of researchers that are found within the innovation ecosystem,” said Paul R. Sanberg, president of NAI. “Each of these individuals are making significant contributions to both science and society through their work.”

An induction ceremony will be held in June in Raleigh, North Carolina.