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José-Alain Sahel, MD, Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

December 12, 2023

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has named José-Alain Sahel, MD, distinguished professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the UPMC Vision Institute, as an NAI Fellow.

The NAI aims to recognize, encourage, and celebrate inventors and generate awareness about how new inventions benefit society. NAI members include U.S. and international universities, government agencies, and nonprofit research institutes.

Dr. Sahel joins a distinguished group of more than 1,700 inventors from across various disciplines who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

As one of the world’s top experts in retinal diseases and vision restoration research, Dr. Sahel has developed several interventions — including stem cell implantation, gene therapy, innovative pharmacologic approaches, optogenetics, and the artificial retina — for retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, vascular eye disease and other vision impairments that currently are untreatable. Over the past decade, he has led pioneering efforts in optogenetic vision restoration, a technique in which cells in the retina are genetically modified to express light sensitive proteins. This therapeutic technique has the potential to help patients who are blind or visually impaired because of a genetic defect.