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Nicolaus Copernicus University honors James Fujimoto

09 March 2015

photo of Dr. Fujimoto James Fujimoto of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a developer of optical coherence tomography (OCT), was awarded the Honorary Doctorate Degree at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland for his contribution to the fields of biomedical optics and medicine, mentoring of young scientists, and service to the international scientific community.

University Dean Andrzej Kowalczyk and Rector Andrzej Tretyn presented the university's highest academic distinction to Fujimoto, an SPIE Fellow and member of the SPIE Board of Directors, on 19 February.

Fujimoto and collaborators are responsible for the invention and development of OCT. As co-author of the landmark paper, "Optical Coherence Tomography," published in 1991, Fujimoto is heavily cited in the field of biophotonics and helping develop clinical biophotonic imaging.

There are an estimated 20 to 30 million ophthalmic imaging procedures performed worldwide every year. Hundreds of researchers around the globe are working on OCT in such fields as cardiology, endoscopy, and cancer surgery. With more than 36 OCT systems companies, the 2014 global sales of OCT systems exceeded $400 million.

In collaboration with OCT pioneer Eric Swanson, Fujimoto co-founded the startup company Advanced Ophthalmic Devices, which developed OCT for ophthalmic imaging and was acquired by Carl Zeiss. Swanson and Fujimoto also co-founded LightLab Imaging, which developed cardiovascular OCT and was acquired by Goodman, Ltd., and St. Jude Medical.

In a commencement speech following receipt of his award, Fujimoto celebrated the wide extent of knowledge that Copernicus obtained from his multidisciplinary training in physics, math, astronomy, English, economics, and diplomacy. The award was made on the birthday of the Renaissance scientist. He remarked on the high degree of specialization in modern society that requires years of focused training on a singular subject.

He said biomedical research represents an example of how a multidisciplinary approach among scientists, engineers, government, and business, can lead to critical advances in healthcare.

Fujimoto is Elihu Thomson Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT and he has worked in the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science since 1985.

As an active member of the optics community, Fujimoto has served as co-chair of BiOS, Photonics West.

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